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Full text of "Recent social trends in the United States; report of the President's research committee on social trends"

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From the collection of the 


o PreTinger 

V Jj 


San Francisco, California 








Thompson and Whelpton 


Wittey and Rice 






Brunner and Kolb 






Wolman and Peck 




Keppel and Duffus 












With a Foreword by 







First Printing, January, 1933 
Second Printing, January, 1933 



IN the autumn of 1929 I asked a group of eminent scientists to examine 
into the feasibility of a national survey of social trends in the United 
States, and in December of that year I named the present Committee 
under the chairmanship of Dr. Wesley C. Mitchell to undertake the 
researches and make a report. The survey is entirely the work of the 
committee and its experts, as it was my desire to have a complete, impar- 
tial examination of the facts. The Committee's own report, which is the 
first section of the published work and is signed by members, reflects 
their collective judgment of the material and sets forth matters of opinion 
as well as of strict scientific determination. 

Since the task assigned to the Committee was to inquire into changing 
trends, the result is emphasis on elements of instability rather than 
stability in our social structure. 

This study is the latest and most comprehensive of a series, some of 
them governmental and others privately sponsored, beginning in 1921 
with the report on "Waste in Industry" under my chairmanship. It 
should serve to help all of us to see where social stresses are occur- 
ring and where major efforts should be undertaken to deal with them 

October 11, 1932. 

President's Research Committee on 

Social Trends 

CHARLES E. MERRIAM, Vice-chairman 
SHELBY M. HARRISON, Secretary- Treasurer 

Executive Staff 

WILLIAM F. OGBURN, Director of Research 
HOWARD W. ODUM, Assistant Director of Research 
EDWARD EYRE HUNT, Executive Secretary 

[ vi] 






I. Minerals and Power xvi 

II. Land xvii 


I. Quantity of Population xx 

II. Quality of Population xxiii 


I. Invention and Economic Organization xxv 

II. Social Organizations and Social Habits xxxiv 

III. Ameliorative Institutions and Government liv 






By Warren S. Thompson and P. K. Whelpton, Scripps Foundation for Research 
in Population Problems, Miami University 



By F. G. Tryon and Margaret H. Schoenfeld, Institute of Economics, the 
Brookings Institution 


By O. E. Baker, Bureau of Agricultural Economics, United States Depart- 
ment of Agriculture 



By W. F. Ogburn, University of Chicago, with the assistance of S. C. Gilfillan 



By Malcolm M. Willey, University of Minnesota, and Stuart A. Rice, University 
of Pennsylvania 

[ vii] 




By Edwin F. Gay, Harvard University, and Leo Wolman, Columbia University 



By Ralph G. Hurlin, Russell Sage Foundation, and Meredith B. Givens, Social 
Science Research Council 



By Charles H. Judd, University of Chicago 



By Hornell Hart, Bryn Mawr College 



By R. D. McKenzie, University of Michigan 



By J. H. Kolb, University of Wisconsin, and Edmund de S. Brunner, Institute 
of Social and Religious Research 



By T. J. Woofter, Jr., University of North Carolina 



By Edgar Sydenstricker, The Milbank Memorial Fund 



By William F. Ogburn, University of Chicago, with the assistance of Clark 



By S. P. Breckinridge, University of Chicago 




By Lawrence K. Frank, General Education Board 



By Leo Wolman, Columbia University, and Gustav Peck, College of the City 
of New York 

[ Viii ] 




By Robert S. Lynd, Columbia University, with the assistance of Alice C. Hanson 



By J. F. Steiner, University of Washington 



By Frederick P. Keppel, Carnegie Corporation of New York 



By C. Luther Fry, Institute of Social and Religious Research, with the assist- 
ance of Mary Frost Jessup. 



By Harry H. Moore, Committee on the Costs of Medical Care 



By Edwin H. Sutherland, University of Chicago, and C. E. Gehlke, Western 
Reserve University 



By Sydnor H. Walker, The Rockefeller Foundation 



By Howard W. Odum, University of North Carolina 



By Carroll H. Wooddy, University of Chicago 



By Clarence Heer, University of North Carolina 



By Leonard D. White, University of Chicago 



By Charles E. Clark and William O. Douglas, Yale University 



By C. E. Merriam, University of Chicago 

INDEX, 1543 

\ ix 1 




IN September 1929 the Chief Executive of the nation called upon 
the members of this Committee to examine and to report upon recent 
social trends in the United States with a view to providing such a 
review as might supply a basis for the formulation of large national 
policies looking to the next phase in the nation's development. The 
summons was unique in our history. 

A summary of the findings on recent social trends, prepared in re- 
sponse to the President's request, is presented in the twenty-nine chapters 
which follow. In addition the Committee is publishing thirteen volumes 
of special studies and supporting data, giving in greater detail the facts 
upon which the findings rest. 

The first third of the twentieth century has been filled with epoch-mak- 
ing events and crowded with problems of great variety and complexity. 
The World War, the inflation and deflation of agriculture and business, 
our emergence as a creditor nation, the spectacular increase in efficiency 
and productivity and the tragic spread of unemployment and business 
distress, the experiment of prohibition, birth control, race riots, stoppage 
of immigration, women's suffrage, the struggles of the Progressive and the 
Farmer Labor parties, governmental corruption, crime and racketeering, 
the sprawl of great cities, the decadence of rural government, the birth 
of the League of Nations, the expansion of education, the rise and weak- 
ening of organized labor, the growth of spectacular fortunes, the advance 
of medical science, the emphasis on sports and recreation, the renewed 
interest in child welfare these are a few of the many happenings which 
have marked one of the most eventful periods of our history. 

With these events have come national problems urgently demanding 
attention on many fronts. Even a casual glance at some of these points 
of tension in our national life reveals a wide range of puzzling questions. 
Imperialism, peace or war, international relations, urbanism, trusts 

[ xi ] 


and mergers, crime and its prevention, taxation, social insurance, the 
plight of agriculture, foreign and domestic markets, governmental 
regulation of industry, shifting moral standards, new leadership in 
business and government, the status of womankind, labor, child train- 
ing, mental hygiene, the future of democracy and capitalism, the re- 
organization of our governmental units, the use of leisure time, public 
and private medicine, better homes and standards of living all of these 
and many others, for these are only samples taken from a long series of 
grave questions, demand attention if we are not to drift into zones of 
danger. Demagogues, statesmen, savants and propagandists have 
attacked these problems, but usually from the point of view of some 
limited interest. Records and information have been and still are in- 
complete and often inconclusive. 

The Committee does not exaggerate the bewildering confusion of 
problems; it has merely uncovered the situation as it is. Modern life 
is everywhere complicated, but especially so in the United States, 
where immigration from many lands, rapid mobility within the country 
itself, the lack of established classes or castes to act as a brake on social 
changes, the tendency to seize upon new types of machines, rich natural 
resources and vast driving power, have hurried us dizzily away from the 
days of the frontier into a whirl of modernisms which almost passes belief. 

Along with this amazing mobility and complexity there has run a 
marked indifference to the interrelation among the parts of our huge 
social system. Powerful individuals and groups have gone their own way 
without realizing the meaning of the old phrase, "No man liveth unto 

The result has been that astonishing contrasts in organization and 
disorganization are to be found side by side in American life: splendid 
technical proficiency in some incredible skyscraper and monstrous 
backwardness in some equally incredible slum. The outstanding prob- 
lem might be stated as that of bringing about a realization of the inter- 
dependence of the factors of our ^complicated social structure, and 
of interrelating the advancing sections of our forward movement so that 
agriculture, labor, industry, government, education, religion and science 
may develop a higher degree of coordination in the next phase of national 

In times of war and imminent public calamity it has been possible 
to achieve a high degree of coordinated action, but in the intervals of 
which national life is largely made up, coordinated effort relaxes and 
under the heterogeneous forces of modern life a vast amount of disorgan- 
ization has been possible in our economic, political and social affairs. 

It may indeed be said that the primary value of this report is to be 
found in the effort to interrelate the disjointed factors and elements in 

[ xii 1 


the social life of America, in the attempt to view the situation as a 
whole rather than as a cluster of parts. The various inquiries which 
have been conducted by the Committee are subordinated to the main 
purpose of getting a central view of the American problem as revealed 
by social trends. Important studies have recently been made in eco- 
nomic changes, in education, in child welfare, in home ownership and 
home building, in law enforcement, in social training, in medicine. The 
meaning of the present study of social change is to be found not merely in 
the analysis of the separate trends, many of which have been examined 
before, but in their interrelation in the effort to look at America as a 
whole, as a national union the parts of which too often are isolated, not 
only in scientific studies but in everyday affairs. 

The Committee's procedure, then, has been to look at recent social 
trends in the United States as interrelated, to scrutinize the functioning 
of the social organization as a joint activity. It is the express purpose of 
this review of findings to unite such problems as those of economics, 
government, religion, education, in a comprehensive study of social 
movements and tendencies, to direct attention to the importance of 
balance among the factors of change. A nation advances not only by 
dynamic power, but by and through the maintenance of some degree of 
equilibrium among the moving forces. 

There are of course numerous ways to present these divergent ques- 
tions but it may be useful to consider for the moment that the clue to 
their understanding as well as the hope for improvement lies in the fact 
of social change. Not all parts of our organization are changing at the 
same speed or at the same time. Some are rapidly moving forward and 
others are lagging. These unequal rates of change in economic life, in 
government, in education, in science and religion, make zones of danger 
and points of tension. It is almost as if the various functions of the body 
or the parts of an automobile were operating at unsynchronized speeds. 
Our capacity to produce goods changes faster than our capacity to 
purchase; employment does not keep pace with improvement in the 
machinery of production; interoceanic communication changes more 
quickly than the reorganization of international relations; the factory 
takes occupations away from the home before the home can adjust itself 
to the new conditions. The automobile affects the railroads, the family, 
size of cities, types of crime, manners and morals. 

Scientific discoveries and inventions instigate changes first in the 
economic organization and social habits which are most closely associated 
with them. Thus factories and cities, corporations and labor organizations 
have grown up in response to technological developments. 

The next great set of changes occurs in organizations one step further 
removed, namely in institutions such as the family, the government, 

[ xiii ] 


the schools and the churches. Somewhat later, as a rule, come changes in 
social philosophies and codes of behavior, although at times these may 
precede the others. Not all changes come in this order but sufficient 
numbers so occur in modern history to make the sequence of value in 
charting the strains of our civilization. In reality all of these factors act 
and react upon each other, often in perplexing and unexpected ways. 

Of the great social organizations, two, the economic and the govern- 
mental, are growing at a rapid rate, while two other historic organizations, 
the church and the family, have declined in social significance, although 
not in human values. Many of the problems of society today occur 
because of the shifting roles of these four major social institutions. 
Church and family have lost many of their regulatory influences over 
behavior, while industry and government have assumed a larger degree 
of control. 

Of these four great social institutions, the economic organization, 
in part at least, has been progressively adjusted to mechanical invention 
as is shown by the remarkable gains in the records of productivity per 
worker. Engineers hold out visions of still greater productivity, with 
consequent increases in the standards of living. But there are many 
adjustments to be made within other parts of the economic organization. 
The flow of credit is not synchronized with the flow of production. There 
are recurring disasters in the business cycle. Employer organizations have 
changed more rapidly than employee organizations. A special set of 
economic problems is that occasioned by the transformation in agricul- 
ture due to science, to electricity and gasoline, and to the growth of 
the agencies of communication. Another focus of maladjustments 
has its center in our ideas of property, the distribution of wealth and 
poverty new forms of age-old problems. 

The shifting of economic activities has brought innumerable problems 
to government. It has forced an expansion of governmental functions, 
creating problems of bureaucracy and inefficiency. The problems of 
still closer union between government and industry are upon us. It is 
difficult but vital to determine what type of relationship there shall be, 
for all types are by no means envisaged by the terms communism and 
capitalism. The conception of government changes as it undertakes 
various community activities such as education, recreation and health. 
Again, the revolutionary developments of communication already have 
shown the inadequacies of the present boundaries of local governments 
organized in simpler days, and on a larger scale foreshadow rearrange- 
ments in the relations of nations, with the possibility always of that 
most tragic of human problems, war. 

Like government the family has been slow to change in strengthening 
its services to its members to meet the new conditions forced upon them. 

[ xiv ] 


Many of the economic functions of the family have been transferred to 
the factory; its educational functions to the school; its supervision over 
sanitation and pure food to government. These changes have necessitated 
many adaptations to new conditions, not always readily made, and often 
resulting in serious maladjustments. The diminishing size and increasing 
instability of the family have contributed to the problem. 

The spiritual values of life are among the most profound of those 
affected by developments in technology and organization. They are the 
slowest in changing to meet altered conditions. Moral guidance is pe- 
culiarly difficult, when the future is markedly different from the past. 
So we have the anomalies of prohibition and easy divorce; strict cen- 
sorship and risque plays and literature; scientific research and laws 
forbidding the teaching of the theory of evolution; contraceptive informa- 
tion legally outlawed but widely utilized. All these are illustrations of 
varying rates of change and of their effect in raising problems. 

If, then, the report reveals, as it must, confusion and complexity 
in American life during recent years, striking inequality in the rates 
of change, uneven advances in inventions, institutions, attitudes and 
ideals, dangerous tensions and torsions in our social arrangements, 
we may hold steadily to the importance of viewing social situations as a 
whole in terms of the interrelation and interdependence of our national life, 
of analyzing and appraising our problems as those of a single society based 
upon the assumption of the common welfare as the goal of common effort. 

Effective coordination of the factors of our evolving society mean, 
where possible and desirable, slowing up the changes which occur too 
rapidly and speeding up the changes which lag. The Committee does not 
believe in a moratorium upon research in physical science and inven- 
tion, such as has sometimes been proposed. On the contrary, it holds that 
social invention has to be stimulated to keep pace with mechanical inven- 
tion. What seems a welter of confusion may thus be brought more closely 
into relationship with the other parts of our national structure, with 
whatever implications this may hold for ideals and institutions. 

The problems before the nation as they are affected by social 
change fall into three great groups. One group is the natural environ- 
ment of earth and air, heat and cold, fauna and flora. This changes 
very slowly; it is man's physical heritage. Another group is our bio- 
logical inheritance those things which determine the color of our 
eyes, the width of our cheek bones, our racial characteristics apart 
from environmental influences. And this also changes slowly. A third 
is the cultural environment called civilization, our social heritage, 
in which change is going forward rapidly. In this framework the problems 
of change will be presented. 

[xv ] 



The natural environment as a whole changes little climate is fairly 
static; the crust of the earth retains much the same characteristics. 
Only those factors of the natural heritage which are susceptible to 
human influence show any appreciable change. Forests are cut, chemical 
constituents of the soil depleted, minerals are extracted and used. 


In the United States the extraordinary richness of the heritage of 
natural resources has often been stressed. The rate at which this heritage 
is drawn upon is significant because it is basic to our material well being. 
The extent to which we use these resources is shown by the increase 
between 1899 and 1929 of 286 percent in mining production, as compared 
with increases of 210 percent in manufacturing, of 48 percent in agricul- 
ture, and of 62 percent in population. Modern civilization rests upon 
power, upon energy derived from inorganic rather than human or animal 
sources. Since the beginning of the century the consumption of energy has 
increased about 230 percent; and the prices of coal, oil and electricity 
have not risen more than have general wholesale prices. Iron, the most 
common element in the tools and machines driven by power, has 
been plentiful and its price has risen much less than have general 
prices, and most of the other minerals have risen in price less than the 
general price level. 

But the supply of minerals is limited and exhaustible. As the richer 
and more accessible deposits are used up, mining proceeds to leaner ores 
and greater depths, and from year to year the natural obstacles become 
more serious. How does it happen, then, that the minerals can be used 
in increasing quantities, yet produced at diminishing costs? The answer 
is given by a thousand technological improvements in production and 
consumption. This brilliant achievement is shown in the increasing output 
per worker; in the coal mines it rose more than 50 percent during the 
period 1900 to 1930; in the same period the reduction in fuel consumed 
per unit of product was over 33 percent. In the field of the metals, there 
is a great increase in recovery of scrap, and the drain upon the under- 
earth supply is thereby retarded. The revolving fund of metal thus 
created will increase with the years. All of these factors promise further 
victories in the battle against increasing costs. For the immediate future 
the outlook is for a growing abundance of minerals available at declining 
price. After that and long before exhaustion sets in, the problem of rising 
costs will become more acute. The ultimate outlook is suggested by the 

[ xvi ] 


position of England, where growing difficulties of mining have swallowed 
up the gains of technology and the output per worker in the coal mines 
is less than it was fifty years ago. 

At the moment the problem which is absorbing the attention of the 
mineral industry is not one of scarcity but of surplus. Abundance of 
resources and the competitive organization of mining have led to excessive 
capacity, causing heavy loss to the capital and labor engaged. But in 
preoccupation over the problem of too many mines and too many miners, 
there is danger of forgetting the waste of the underlying resources which 
such destructive competition entails. The best seams and richest deposits 
are being rapidly stripped, leaving large quantities more or less unmin- 
able. In the bituminous coal industry this loss amounts to 150 million 
tons of minable coal a year, and oil production is a similarly conspicuous 
example of waste. The money losses in mining have stimulated 
attempts at control of production and even proposals to modify the 
anti-trust laws. From the public point of view it is important that any 
change in economic organization undertaken in the interest of steadier 
profits and wages should also insure conservation by preventing waste 
of the resources. 

One of the most practical steps in conservation is to harness the 
inexhaustible sources of power. Power from the tides is still in the future, 
although a tidal project at Passamaquoddy Bay is now under considera- 
tion. Power from waterfalls, on the other hand, now supplies 36 percent 
of the electricity generated by public utilities. The capacity of installed 
waterwheels has increased sevenfold in thirty years, and projects now in 
hand insure further large increase. Even so, only about 40 percent of 
the potential horsepower has been harnessed. Except for the St. Lawrence 
the undeveloped resources lie chiefly in regions remote from present 

It is clear that development of water power as fast as it can be utilized 
is in the public interest. Yet there is danger of exaggerating the amount 
of energy obtainable from this source. At the present time only seven 
percent of the country's energy consumption if heat be included as 
well as power is derived from water, and even maximum development 
of the potential resources would leave us primarily depending upon fuel. 
As far as the energy resources are concerned, the heart of the conservation 
problem lies in preventing waste of coal, petroleum and natural gas. 


With regard to the soil the situation is different from that of the 
minerals. The growing of crops removes essential chemical elements but 
these can be replaced. It is estimated by our experts, however, that about 

[ xvii ] 


one-fourth of the cultivated land in the United States, chiefly in the 
southeast and southwest, has lost by erosion a third of its surface soil, 
and that from another quarter of the land a sixth or more of surface soil 
has been removed. These are colossal losses and they are increasing every 
year, yet the threat of an insufficient supply of food or fiber in the future 
now appears to exist no longer. 

There are still nearly 300 million acres of land devoted mainly to 
pasture which can be put into crops by ploughing and planting, and 
another 300 million acres which could be used for crops after clearing of 
the forest or after drainage or irrigation. Despite this vast reserve of land 
available for crop production the nation can ill afford to permit waste of 
soil resources by erosion and allow the people of a district to be slowly re- 
duced to poverty. Where the land cannot be protected by terracing it 
would seem that it may be restored to forest or grass. Erosion, of course, 
leads to the silting of the rivers and to floods, which are matters of 
national concern. The utilization of eroding lands for forest or grazing 
would also tend to reduce the surplus of farm products. 

The economic prospects of agriculture have been changed by the 
rapid decline of the birth rate, the restrictions upon immigration, the 
great decrease in exports of farm products, and by progress in technique. 
There has been no increase in crop acreage for 15 years, nor in acre-yields 
of the crops as a whole for 30 years, yet agricultural production has 
increased about 50 percent since the beginning of the century. The 
advancing efficiency in land utilization is due principally to the increased 
use of power machinery in agriculture, and to the application of scientific 
knowledge. Use of the gas engine has reduced the number of horses 
and mules by 10 millions during the past 14 years, thereby releasing 
about 30 million acres of plough land and large areas of pasture for 
raising meat and milk animals or for growing food and fiber crops. 
Total mechanical power used on farms increased from 0.5 horse power 
per worker in 1900 to 5.6 in 1930. Improvements in animal husbandry 
have resulted in a further saving of probably 25 million acres of crop 
land since the World War. 

It is estimated by our experts that agricultural output per worker 
increased 22 percent between the average of the decade 1912-1921 and 
the average of the decade 1922-1931. A farmer now provides food for 
himself and three members of his family, for 12 Americans not living on 
farms and for 2 foreigners a total of 18 persons. 

The result of these changing forces has been a volume of agricultural 
production in excess of market demands, and this in turn affords a partial 
explanation of the net loss in farm population of 1.2 million between 
1920 and 1930, although a reversal of population flow has set in since the 
depression began in 1929. This migration of farmers to cities means an 

[ xviii ] 


abandonment of crop lands which should be first from the poorer lands, 
for there is a problem of the rural poverty areas as truly as there is a 
problem of the urban slums. 

The power line is likely to supplement the automobile in drawing 
farmers to the highways and in causing the gradual abandonment of 
much land back in the hills. The selective abandonment of the poorer 
land is being facilitated by the agencies of communication such as the 
postal service, the newspaper, the telephone, and the radio. 

Should government endeavor to facilitate or direct this migration 
from the farms in the handicapped areas, relocating on more fertile or 
favorably located land those who wish to continue farming? Often the 
economies to be obtained in the provision of schools and roads alone would 
justify the county or state in such action. This might lead to the zoning 
of rural lands. On the other hand, should government policy aim at 
retaining as much as possible of the natural increase of the farm popula- 
tion on farms or in rural areas as a means of maintaining the national 
population ? 

Abandoned farm lands return to brush but are not likely to be used 
for lumber production for some time. There are, however, other uses of 
low grade forest lands : conserving game and fur bearing animals, affording 
recreation, protecting water supplies and preventing floods. The responsi- 
bility for the development of such uses and the reorganization of the 
school and road systems in regions consisting in substantial part of such 
lands seem likely to devolve largely upon the state. 

The problem of export markets may be serious for a time. Technologi- 
cal progress in land utilization in western Europe and in Russia is pro- 
ceeding as in the United States, while in northwestern Europe, where 
most of the exports of farm products are sent, the prospect is for a 
stationary or declining population within a few decades. Losses in 
European markets in part may be compensated for by the growth of 
markets in the countries bordering on the Pacific Ocean. To deal with the 
agricultural surplus raises the broad question of land utilization and of 
domestic and foreign markets. 

The tendencies which have given rise to these problems of surpluses, 
markets and shifts in population rest in large part upon two great move- 
ments: technological advance and declining population growth. The 
advance of science and invention may be expected to continue. It may 
lead to the widespread adoption of mechanical corn harvesters and 
cotton pickers for the handling of two of our greatest crops, and to the 
wider use of other agricultural machines now in existence. If so, it will 
give a premium in crop production to the larger farms on the more level 
lands, and it will lead to reduction in the number of people engaged in 
commercial agriculture and to further shifts in population. 

[ xix] 




The Declining Rate of Growth. The rate of population growth in the 
United States has long been declining but this fact has perhaps been ob- 
scured because of the size of the net increase decade by decade. Thus the 
increase from 1920 to 1930 was 17 millions as compared with 14 millions in 
the years 1910 to 1920, within which the World War occurred. Before the 
Civil War, however, the population was increasing at the rate of about 35 
percent a decade. Between 1920 and 1930 it increased only 16 percent. 

Experts on population have projected their curves into the future and 
the outlook is startling. Manufacturers who try to estimate future mar- 
kets have been expecting a population of 140 million by 1940, but the 
calculations of our contributors, based on information not presented in the 
decennial censuses, show that the declining rate of increase has been 
particularly striking since 1923, and that hardly more than 132 or 
133 millions are to be expected by 1940. This means that the markets 
for mine operators, farmers and manufacturers, whose plants may be 
over-equipped and whose problems are those of overproduction, will be 
considerably smaller than has been expected, unless foreign markets are 
expanded, or our domestic standards of consumption are raised. 

As our statisticians look further into the future, they see possibilities 
of still greater declines in growth with the probability of a stationary 
population. They show that we shall probably attain a population between 
145 and 190 million during the present century with the probability that 
the actual population will be nearer the lower figure than the higher. Such 
a prospect is radically different from that predicted a generation or even 
a decade ago. 

Ideas regarding the domestic market will have to be revised in the 
light of these estimates, not only by manufacturers and farmers but also 
by real estate owners, lawyers, doctors, teachers and many others. The 
problem will be to compensate for less rapidly growing numbers by 
endeavoring to raise standards of purchasing power and consumption. 

America, with its rapidly expanding population and its exploitation of 
abundant natural resources, has been characterized by exceptional opti- 
mism and initiative. Will these traditional traits of the American charac- 
ter suffer by a declining rate of population growth and increasing difficul- 
ties in exploiting our national resources ? It may be that this will prove to 
be the case, but we must make allowance for the highly dynamic factor of 
invention which is likely to develop new industries, stimulating optimism 
and energy through the creation of new commodities and new desires. 

The Problem of an Optimum Population. Shall we aim to have a 
large or a limited population ? This is a major problem in the development 

[ xx] 


of a population policy, and it is a question on which opinions differ. The 
manufacturer may see in a stationary or diminishing population a limita- 
tion of his market, whereas a smaller population may mean a higher 
standard of living for consumers. A patriotic militarist may have a very 
different idea of the optimum population from that of a labor leader. 
Similarly a real estate owner and a social worker may disagree concerning 
the most desirable numbers. Thus the population policy of the United 
States as it develops through the coming years will be affected by a 
variety of conflicting ideals and interests. 

But while population policy is shaped by social wishes, knowledge may 
influence the decisions which are made. One influence may be the amount 
of unemployment which results from the displacement of men by ma- 
chines and which may increase with the growing number of inventions. 
Similarly the methods of controlling the size of the population may differ. 
The policy of restricting immigration from Europe and of regulating the 
inflow from Mexico and Canada requires collective action, while it is 
difficult to control social attitudes toward the natural rates of increase. 

The future is likely to bring continuing discussion of the optimum 
population, which in turn may affect the validity of present predictions. 
The forces which determine the size of our population may be expected to 
vary from time to time, so that in the future numbers may fall and later 
rise again, but within the near future the prospect is for further decline in 
rates of increase, as the use of contraceptives may spread, if not among 
those religious groups which now bar them, certainly farther into the farm- 
ing areas and among the groups with lower incomes in cities and villages. 

Distribution and Density of Population. Population policy is con- 
cerned not only with the total numbers in the nation as a whole, but also 
with the numbers in particular regions and localities. 

The most significant movements of peoples, however, relate to their 
concentration in centers of high density where the question is arising 
whether the larger cities are becoming too crowded to be comfortable 
and economical. Although this difficulty may be solved by the automatic 
working of economic forces and considerations of comfort, the delay and 
costs may prove great. There is evidence that factories have been moving 
from large cities to smaller places where land and labor are cheaper 
and living conditions are more favorable. Nevertheless, our largest two 
cities have continued to grow faster than the general population, though 
no faster than the total urban population which includes small towns as 
well as cities. The fastest rates of urban growth from 1920 to 1930 were 
found in the smaller cities within the orbits of the metropolitan centers. 
The ideal of the Greeks was to limit the size of their cities, but in the 
United States most of the effective vocal element in cities appears eager 
for greater size. Various economic forces have in the past offered en- 

f xxi 1 


couragement to growth, in part because of the unearned increment of 
wealth accruing to real estate owners and to other established groups 
interested in expanding markets. 

Suburban transportation has helped to disperse the population of 
cities. Indeed, the boundary line of the city becomes more and more 
shadowy in a social and economic sense. The surrounding country is 
linked to the metropolitan center by delivery services of stores, by 
extension of telephone exchange areas, by daily newspaper routes and 
other similar bonds. The automobile helps to fill up the suburbs, families 
move outward, and in some cases they engage in gardening or even in 
part time farming. Little cities, towns, trading centers and shops grow 
up along the highways. In short, a new type of population grouping is 
appearing : not the city, but the metropolitan community a constellation 
of smaller groups dominated by a metropolitan center. As the railroad 
and telegraph tended earlier to create our cities, so the automobile and 
the telephone tend now to create our metropolitan communities. 

This dramatic development of a new type of population grouping 
the metropolitan community has not only affected city planning but 
has led to regional planning. A problem for city planning has been 
left by the outward drift of the city's population. Disorganized areas 
where the older residential sections impinge upon the business districts 
have been left to the weaker economic elements and sometimes to criminal 
groups with resultant unsatisfactory social conditions. The motor age 
has brought "boom" suburban towns planted with as little planning as 
the "boom" towns which burst into existence in the railway age. 

This unanticipated type of aggregation has not only meant a reorgani- 
zation of city planning, but has precipitated many adjustments of social 
habits. Large cities throughout the United States have been confronted 
with the task either of extending municipal services to surrounding sub- 
urban communities or of developing some new form of political associa- 
tion. Economic services, lured by gain, have responded promptly. 
The cultural institutions, schools, churches and similar organizations 
have found more difficulty in adjusting themselves to the rearranged 
population, political instutions, unpressed by competition, have been the 
least adaptive and have remained for the most part the same as in the 
pre-motor period. The costs involved in maintaining an obsolete political 
structure are now becoming the subject of conscious consideration and 
the problem cannot be neglected much longer. 

The quantity of population in a particular region is affected by its 
distribution, the nature of which is changing rapidly; hence, the time is 
ripe for social and physical planning of these communities. How large 
our cities should be rests in part on conscious wishes and will power, 
but it will probably be decided for the most part by powerful economic 

[ xxii ] 


factors, such as the dispersal of manufacturing and trading centers and 
business policies dictated by land values and labor costs. 


Processes for Improving the Inherited Qualities of the Population. 
Of the two ways of improving the inherited qualities of a people, the 
first, mutation, may be dismissed, since our knowledge is still too lim- 
ited; the second, selection and breeding for desirable qualities, offers 

But what are the practical possibilities of improving a people by 
conscious selection? The lack of knowledge concerning heredity and the 
composition of the chromosomes of prospective parents is undoubtedly 
an obstacle, but breeders of livestock have accomplished results without 
this information. The obstacles lie rather in obtaining the necessary 
control, in the lack of agreement as to which combination of traits is 
desirable, and in the difficulty in mating of combining sentimental 
and spiritual values with biological values. The problem is one of research 
from which in time higher eugenic ideals may emerge. 

More immediately urgent is the need of preventing individuals with 
undesired inheritable traits from having offspring. Such a policy could be 
enforced in the more marked cases of feeblemindedness, of which there are 
less than 100,000 in institutions, but for the large numbers outside of 
institutions, variously estimated in the millions, who is to decide? The 
abilities of individuals shade down from competency to idiocy, and it is 
not at all certain that all low grades of mentality are caused by heredity. 
So with the other objectionable types, the insane and criminals, it is not 
known that the factors producing them are inherited. Men often commit 
criminal acts because of social conditions. Crime fluctuates with the busi- 
ness cycle. In a similar manner, certain types of social experience conduce 
to insanity. For example, there was a higher percentage of rejections 
because of mental disorder among men drafted for the United States 
Army from cities than from rural areas. A few states have passed laws 
providing for the sterilization of certain inmates of state institutions by 
an operation reported to be otherwise harmless. 

If conscious control of selection now seems remote, it should be re- 
membered that selection is continually ocurring nonetheless, and that a 
policy is demanded. Natural selection has not ceased and the modern 
urban environment may be quite as rigorous as that of nature in develop- 
ing or suppressing physical or mental traits. Discoveries regarding birth 
control already represent a powerful device for implementing policies of 
selection, and the birth rate, itself a selective agent, is much higher among 
the groups with a low income than among those with a higher income. The 

[ xxiii ] 


association, however, between large incomes and desirable hereditary 
traits may not be very marked. 

Ethnic Groups and Immigration Policies. Birth rates, death rates 
and migrations have redistributed groups of our population in the past 
and these forces are at work among our ethnic stocks. Among Negroes 
death rates are about one and a half times as high as among whites. 
Death rates are also higher for the foreign born than for native born 
whites, although the differences are slight for those in the same income 
groups. Birth rates are somewhat higher among Negroes and foreign 
born whites than among native whites. The net result is that Negroes 
constitute a smaller proportion of the population than in earlier years 
and if present policies of restrictive immigration continue in force, the 
foreign born will be a declining element. 

The present immigration policy of the United States not only regu- 
lates the quantity of the immigrant population but is selective as to 
quality. Designed to favor certain groups of nationalities, it encourages 
the Nordic racial types of northwestern Europe and restricts the Mediter- 
ranean and Alpine types of southern and southeastern Europe. This 
policy selects a physical type which closely resembles the prevailing 
stock in our country, for about 85 percent of the whites in the United 
States in 1920 were from strains originating in northwestern Europe 
where Nordics predominate. The immigration policy is inconsistent as 
applied to the non-white races. The entrance of Chinese and Japanese is 
limited, but not that of the Filipinos or the Mexicans. 

The question of racial selection is confused by doubt as to which of 
the so-called racial traits are inherited. Crime and sickness, for instance, 
are frequently a matter of environment. Many personality traits peculiar 
to certain peoples are also acquired in the early home environment. The 
assimilation of immigrants may result in the loss of distinguishing per- 
sonality traits, unless there is some marked physical characteristic to 
brand the individual and so to encourage prejudice and psychological 
isolation. The persistence of these distinguishing traits is encouraged 
by social segregation, separate languages, family life, and religions, 
whereas the schools tend to modify them. They persist more stubbornly 
among non-white immigrants than among the various racial types of 
European origin. It may be questioned if the present basis of selection 
according to racial types is a more desirable policy than selection within 
a race according to the merits and defects of individuals. However, to 
a certain extent our immigration laws take into account individual qualifi- 
cations, for example by excluding aliens with records of crime or insanity. 

Environmental Influences on the Quality of Peoples. Breeding is 
not the only way in which to improve the quality of the people. Americans 
are taller than they used to be because of dietary changes and a reduction 

[ xxiv ] 


in the diseases of childhood which permanently retard growth ; at the 
same time bad housing and the reduction of violet rays by the smoky 
skies of cities are forces operating against growth. Participants in sports 
and athletics benefit thereby; though the number of indoor occupations 
involving less physical activity appears to be increasing. Such changes in 
the physical qualities are not inherited, but if the culture giving rise to 
them continues the gains may not be difficult to maintain. The problem is 
rather to extend wholesome environmental influences to those of us who 
now share them in lesser degree, particularly to the great numbers with 
low incomes. There are limits, however, to the improvements possible by 
these methods, limits set by biological laws; the stature of a people cannot 
be indefinitely increased; family strains may vary greatly in their possi- 
bilities of development. 

Mental and social qualities are peculiarly susceptible to influences 
of the cultural environment. In early childhood in the family environment 
the more firmly imbedded traits of personality are fixed, particularly 
the basis for mental health or disorder. These cultural influences are the 
subject of the next section. It is clear that within limits the qualities 
of peoples are susceptible of great variation because of cultural change. 
There is one possible type of influence which may be overwhelming 
if it should be developed. This is the influence of physiological inven- 
tion. One illustration is the possible influence of new chemical knowledge 
on the regulation, growth and functioning of the hormones, particularly 
those associated with certain endocrine glands, with possibly astounding 
effects on personality and the quality of the population. 



Apart from rates of population growth, most of the social changes 
which are taking place today are in our social environment rather than 
in the natural environment and biological heritage. The fact that con- 
ditions in 1930 are different from those in 1920 or 1900 is explained by 
changes in culture, not in man or nature. 

Material Culture. The magnificent material portion of our culture 
has been developed by scientific discoveries and inventions applied to a 
rich natural heritage. This is well understood, but what is less under- 
stood is the dynamic nature of this material culture, and the fact that 
the problems of society arising out of a changing technology are produced 
in large measure by this dynamic element. More and more inventions 
are made every year, and there is no reason to think that technological 
developments will ever stop. On the contrary, there is every reason to 
expect that more new inventions will be made in the future than in the 
past. It has required on an average about a third of a century for an 

[ XXV ] 


invention to become successful after it has been made, and many new or 
unheard of inventions are now in existence which will have wide use in 
the future. The death rate of inventions is so great, however, that it is 
not easy to tell which will be successful. It may be that the world 
will find much use for talking books; school and college students may 
listen to lectures by long-running phonographs or talking pictures; 
moving pictures may be transmitted by wireless into houses; seeing with 
that new electric eye, the photo-electric cell, and recording what is 
seen, appear to have almost unlimited applications; new musical instru- 
ments different from any now in use may be given to us by electricity; 
the production of artificial climate may become widespread; an efficient 
storage battery of light weight and low cost might produce changes 
rivaling those of the internal combustion engine. And these are only a 
few of the myriad possibilities from new inventions in the future. 

Social Problems Raised by the Communication Inventions. The 
machine got its modern social significance from the earlier phase of the 
industrial revolution. Its later phase is characterized by inventions in 
the fields of communication and transportation which have brought about 
remarkable developments in the transmission of material objects, of the 
voice, of vision and of ideas. 

The first problems raised by these inventions were those of coordina- 
tion and competition, involving the railroad and the bus, the telegraph 
and the telephone, the newspaper and the radio. Similar problems are 
created by all new inventions, but because of their public aspects the 
recent inventions in communication have involved to an unusual degree 
planning, regulation and control. 

Another set of problems cluster about mobility. These involve hous- 
ing, home ownership, family life, child welfare, recreation, residence, 
voting and citizenship, land values, increases and declines in population 
and migrations of industry. The transmission of goods, of the voice and 
possibly of vision may act as a retarding influence on human mobility 
in the future and may cause a development of more remote and im- 
personal direction and controls. 

A further set of problems center about the effectual shortening of 
distances and the increasing size of the land area which forms the basis 
or unit of operation for many organized activities. Closer communications 
favor centralization in social life, in domestic politics and in international 
relations. Thus the units of local governments laid out a century or more 
ago are now too small for the discharge of various functions. Problems 
of jurisdiction arising from the lessened significance of state boundary 
lines are increasing. Even national units may be too small in the future, 
but this is an embarrassment felt more acutely by other countries than 
the United States. 

[ xxvi ] 


A final group of problems arising from the inventions in the field of 
communications concern the greater ease and extent of their diffusion. 
Regional isolation is being broken down all over the world. Indeed, the 
spread of cultures throughout history has been dependent upon trans- 
portation and communication and a social revolution is now under way 
in the Orient fostered by these agencies. In general, both here and abroad 
cities are the great centers of dispersal of new developments, and from 
them new manners and customs, new ideas and useful objects spread 
to the villages and countryside. The agencies of mass communication 
increase the possibilities of education, propaganda and the spread of infor- 
mation. A collateral descendant of George Washington flew in 1932 in a 
single day over all the routes which Washington had traversed in the 
course of his lifetime. Today, a flight over the poles is known almost 
instantly and a single speaker may address an audience of 100,000,000. 
These developments bring problems of mass action, of mass production 
and of standardization. It is, of course, true that opening channels of com- 
munication tends to produce uniformities of speech, manners, styles, 
behavior and thought; but this tendency is counteracted in part by the 
increasing specializations arising from the accumulation of inventions 
which bring to us different vocabularies, techniques, habits and thoughts. 

Problems Raised by Our Rapidly Changing Environment of Material 
Culture. Among inventions other than those of communication, but 
especially in machines of production, there has been a continual develop- 
ment. A larger proportion of work by machines, and a smaller proportion 
of human labor is to be expected in the future. In 1870, 77 percent of the 
gainfully occupied persons in the United States were engaged in trans- 
forming the resources of nature into objects of usable form through 
manufacturing, mining and agriculture; in 1930 only 52 percent. There 
are indeed a few cases of wholly automatic factories and automatic stores 
and many automatic salesmen. Nor are the heavy productive machines 
the only ones which are increasing. The modern American surrounds him- 
self with small tools and machines for personal use, such as the type- 
writer, the radio, the fountain pen, the toothbrush, the golf stick, the 
sunlight machine and the ice-making refrigerator. 

In 1851-1855, 6,000 patents were granted in the United States, in 
1875-1880, 64,000, in 1901-1905, 143,000, and in 1926-1930, 219,000. 
This growing number of inventions and scientific discoveries has brought 
problems of morals, of education, of law, of leisure time, of unemploy- 
ment, of speed, of uniformity and of differentiation, and its continuation 
will create more such problems. Social institutions are not easily adjusted 
to inventions. The family has not yet adapted itself to the factory; the 
church is slow in adjusting to the city; the law was slow in adjusting to 
dangerous machinery; local governments are slow in adjusting to the 

[ xxvii ] 


transportation inventions; international relations are slow in adjusting to 
the communication inventions; school curricula are slow in adjusting to 
the new occupations which machines create. There is in our social or- 
ganizations an institutional inertia, and in our social philosophies a 
tradition of rigidity. Unless there is a speeding up of social invention or a 
slowing down of mechanical invention, grave maladjustments are certain 
to result. 

Industrial Technique and Economic Organization. To put inventions 
to practical use often requires change in parts of the economic structure. 
The character of the work called for, its amount, the classes by whom 
it is performed, the materials used, the location of industrial plant, the 
capital investment, the selling methods, the prices of materials and 
products, the disbursement of wages, the profits made these and a 
hundred subsequent matters are affected by improvements in machinery 
and industrial procedure. When the pace of technological progress is 
rapid, the business enterprises which grasp the new opportunities for 
gain bring to pass mass changes in economic conditions, and unwittingly 
produce a host of economic problems. All of these problems may be 
summed up in the question : How can society improve its economic organi- 
zation so as to make full use of the possibilities held out by the march of 
science, invention and engineering skill, without victimizing many of its 
workers, and without incurring such general disasters as the depression 
of 1930-1932? 

Distributing the Costs of Progress. Even before the business collapse 
of 1929 Americans had become painfully alive to the rapid growth of 
technological unemployment and during the depression the tidal wave of 
cyclical unemployment has added its millions to the involuntarily idle. 
The depression also has put employers under the severest pressure to 
devise more economical methods of production, which mean in many 
cases the use of less labor to turn out a given volume of goods. At best, 
the problem of technological unemployment promises to remain grave 
in the years to come. 

One hope for a solution is that inventions of new products will add to 
employment more rapidly than the invention of labor saving machines 
and methods reduces it. A change in the distribution of income which 
put more purchasing power in the hands of wage earners would enor- 
mously increase the market for many staples and go far toward providing 
places for all competent workers, but for the near future we see little 
prospect of a rapid increase of wage disbursements above the 1929 level. 
Another possibility is a great expansion of exports; but in a tariff-ridden 
world that also seems a dim hope. Barring a marked growth of demand, 
various palliatives for the suffering caused by unemployment will receive 
much attention. The six hour day and the five day week are methods of 

[ xxviii 1 


distributing the loss of jobs in a less inequitable fashion. Unemployment 
insurance has been rapidly gaining adherents in this country; but what- 
ever its merits for tiding wage earners over slack seasons and moderate 
cyclical depressions, it cannot provide for those who are out of work for 
long periods. On the other hand, the technologically unemployed are 
a changing aggregation of individuals, and a solvent unemployment fund 
would do much to mitigate the distress which many now suffer before 
finding new openings. Perhaps the hardest cases to help are those of men 
and women thrown out of work too late in life to appear desirable appli- 
cants for new positions. An extension of old age pensions to care for such 
victims of progress may bulk large in future discussions. 

The Committee is aware of the numerous objections urged against 
these schemes of social insurance, and of the heavy costs which they 
impose upon society; but it is also impressed by the inarticulate misery 
of the hundreds of thousands or millions of breadwinners who are de- 
prived of their livelihoods through no fault of their own. To put the cost 
of unemployment squarely upon those who remain at work, upon em- 
ployers and upon the public purse makes everyone conscious of the 
difficulty and focuses attention upon the need of devising more con- 
structive methods for dealing with it. 

While wage earners are the most numerous, they are by no means 
the sole sufferers from technological progress. People whose property is 
rendered valueless by new methods may in future demand compensation 
after some fashion. For example, investors in public utilities which 
have become unprofitable by reason of competition which they cannot 
meet and which the state will not prevent may demand that government 
buy their holdings. But this is a hazardous speculation and it may be 
premature to press it further. 

The Problem of Economic Balance. In the halcyon days of 1925- 
1929, there were many who believed that business cycles had been 
"ironed out" in this favored land. Everyone now realizes that we have 
been suffering one of the severest depressions in our national history. 
Those who are acquainted with past experience anticipate that, while 
business will revive and prosperity return, the new wave of prosperity 
will be terminated in its turn by a fresh recession, which will run into 
another period of depression, more or less severe. 

Whether these recurrent episodes of widespread unemployment, 
huge financial losses and demoralization are an inescapable feature of the 
form of economic organization which the western world has evolved is a 
question which can be answered only by further study and experiment. 
That the severity of the current depression has been due in large measure 
to non-cyclical factors is generally admitted. But this admission means 
merely that besides checking the excesses of booms, we must learn 



how to avoid errors of other types as well before we can hope to make full 
use of the productive possibilities which modern technology puts at our 

Reflection upon this range of ideas leads to more fundamental issues. 
The basic feature of our present economic organization is that we get 
our livings by making and spending money incomes. This practice offers 
prizes to those who have skill at money making; it imposes penalties 
upon those who lack the ability or the character to render services for 
which others are willing to pay. A decent modicum of industry and thrift 
is maintained by most men and women, and the incentive to improve 
industrial practice in any way which will increase profits is strong. 

When business is active and employment full, this scheme of organiz- 
ing the production and distribution of real income yields results upon 
which we congratulate ourselves. Probably no other large community 
ever attained so high a level of real income as the inhabitants of the 
United States enjoyed on the average in, say, 1925-1929. 

But even in good times it is clear that we do not make full use of our 
labor power, our industrial equipment, our natural resources and our 
technical skill. The reason why we do not produce a larger real income 
for ourselves is not that we are satisfied with what we have, for in the 
best of years millions of families are limited to a meager living. The 
effective limit upon production is the limit of what the markets will 
absorb at profitable prices, and this limit is set by the purchasing power 
at the disposal of would-be consumers. 

Yet how can larger sums be paid out in wages and dividends? No 
business can pay wages for making goods which will not sell at a profit, 
and no business can make a profit if it pays wages higher than its com- 
petitors for labor of the same grade of efficiency. Of necessity the business 
organizer's task is often the unwelcome one of keeping production down 
to a profitable level. There is always danger of glutting the markets a 
danger which seems to grow greater as our power to produce expands and 
as the areas over which we distribute our products grow wider. Despite 
improvements in communication, increased accuracy in business report- 
ing, the strenuous efforts of the Department of Commerce and the rising 
profession of business statisticians, the task of maintaining a tolerable 
balance between the supply of and the demand for the innumerable 
varieties of goods we make, between the disbursing and spending of 
money incomes, between investments in different industries and the need 
of industrial equipment, between the prices of securities and the incomes 
they will yield, between the credit needed by business and the volume 
supplied by the banks seems to grow no easier. 

When these balances have been gravely disturbed, business activity is 
checked by a recession, which is followed by a depression of industry, 

[ XXX ] 


trade and finance. Then our scheme of economic organization yields 
results which satisfy no one. The income of the whole population falls by 
10 or 20 percent; in extreme depressions by a substantially greater figure. 
And these average losses are accompanied by appalling individual 
tragedies in millions of cases, scattered through all classes of society, but 
commonest among those who have few reserves. 

To maintain the balance of our economic mechanism is a challenge 
to all the imagination, the scientific insight and the constructive ability 
which we and our children can muster. 

Economic Planning. To deal with the central problem of balance, 
or with any of its ramifications, economic planning is called for. At 
present, however, that phrase represents a social need rather than a 
social capacity. The best which any group of economic planners can do 
with the data now at hand, bulky but inadequate, is to lay plans for 
making plans. Those who know most about the actual conduct of the 
work of the world realize most keenly the magnitude of the task involved 
in planning. To work out schemes which could be taken seriously as a 
guide to production and distribution would require the long collaboration 
of thousands of experts from thousands of places. In addition to the 
accumulation and sifting of countless figures not now available, planners 
would have to decide intricate problems of social theory, either by think- 
ing them out, or by accepting arbitrary rules. To gloss over the difficulties 
of the task is no service to mankind; to face them honestly should not 
discourage those who have faith in men's capacity to find their way out of 
difficulties by taking thought. As the task of planning economic relations 
is faced in detail, it is not unlikely that modest schemes will be devised 
which will make the present organization work more steadily. It is 
more in line with past experience to anticipate a long series of 
cumulative improvements which will gradually transform existing 
economic organization into something different, than to anticipate a 
sudden revolution in our institutions. 

Yet the segment of American experience which we are reviewing 
includes a brief period during which changes in economic organization 
were made at a rapid pace quite overshadowing for the time being the 
pace of technological changes. 

Promptly upon entering the World War, the United States followed 
the example of its allies and opponents by seeking to mobilize economic 
resources behind its military program. With extraordinary rapidity the 
federal government not only became incomparably the greatest employer 
in the country, incomparably the greatest buyer of goods all of which 
it had become in earlier wars but it also assumed direct control over 
fundamental economic activities. It took the railroads and many of the 
ships out of private hands. It regulated exports and imports system- 

[ xxxi ] 


atically by licenses. It gave priorities in transportation, materials and use 
of men to producers of war materials, and purposely repressed industries 
non-essential to military efficiency or civilian morale. It intervened 
between employer and employee through the war-labor boards. It set up 
a Food Administration and a Fuel Administration. It fixed maximum 
and minimum prices for thousands of commodities. And it imposed all of 
these drastic restrictions upon private initiative and free enterprise 
through the zealous cooperation of hundreds of business executives who 
served as officials on nominal pay. 

Despite the wastes and confusion attending upon this sudden overturn 
in economic organization, the mobilization served its purpose. In retro- 
spect it offers a significant illustration of the rapidity and the success 
with which a people can recast its basic institutions at need. Seemingly, 
what engineers regard as the slow pace of change in economic organization 
is due more to absence of unity in will and purpose than to lack of capacity 
to imagine and carry out alterations. In 1917 the country was nearly 
unanimous in putting victory in the war above all other aims. In this 
supreme aim it had a criterion sufficiently definite to determine what 
should be done. No similar revolution could be effected in times of peace, 
unless a similar agreement in purpose, supplying an equally definite 
criterion of social values, could be attained. But is it beyond the range of 
men's capacity some day to take the enhancement of social welfare as 
seriously as our generation took the winning of a war? 

Current Changes in Economic Institutions. To those who look 
behind cherished phrases to the actualities of current life, it is clear not 
only that economic institutions can be changed, but also that they have 
been changing during the period covered by this survey of social trends. 
Private property, for example, is commonly supposed to be one of the 
fixed principles of our polity. But generation by generation the right of 
a man to do what he will with his own has been curbed by the American 
people acting through legislators and administrators of their own election. 
Perhaps the most spectacular instances have been the abolition of prop- 
erty rights in slaves by the Proclamation of Emancipation and the calm 
disregard of property rights in the liquor traffic shown by the passage of 
the Eighteenth Amendment, but these are only two instances among 
thousands of cases in which consideration of the public welfare has been 
deemed to justify interference with property. Numberless detailed restric- 
tions have been placed upon the uses of particular kinds of property for 
example, municipal ordinances concerning the character of buildings 
which may be erected on city lots or the character of business which may 
be conducted therein. We have developed elaborate state and federal 
systems for regulating an expanding list of public utilities. Government 
discriminates between citizen and citizen on the basis of the amount of 

[ xxxii ] 


property owned. The fraction of his income or of his inheritance which a 
man is required to pay over to the public treasury depends upon how large 
that income or inheritance is. Recipients of "earned" incomes are often 
taxed less heavily than recipients of incomes from property. Nor are 
transformations of property rights effected solely by government. Com- 
petent legal students of modern business practice hold that quietly but 
surely the investor as a part owner in a corporation is being shorn in effect 
of almost all his privileges, except that of drawing such dividends as the 
directors declare and selling his stock when he sees fit. And of course the 
small business man often declares that his field of initiative is being 
gradually hemmed in by the rapid increase of great corporations. 

How much farther such changes will go no man can say. It is con- 
ceivable that without any surrender of our belief in the merits of private 
property, individual enterprise and self-help, the American people will 
press toward a larger measure of public control to promote the common 
welfare. One possibility is a further extension of the list of public utilities 
to include coal mining and perhaps other industries. Progressive taxes 
may be graded at still steeper rates. An upper limit may be put upon 
inheritances. Public ownership may be extended, as suggested above, on 
the pleas of security owners who see no escape from heavy loss except 
through sale to the government. Small business men may succeed in 
getting drastic restrictions placed upon corporate enterprises. Farmers 
may demand and receive further special legislation to lighten their 
burdens. Labor organizations seem likely to push with vigor various 
plans for social insurance. And among the interests which will demand 
that government concern itself actively with their needs, large corporate 
enterprises will continue to occupy a prominent place. 

It is not likely that all of the possibilities listed here will become 
actualities, but it seems inevitable that the varied economic interests 
of the country will find themselves invoking more and more the help of 
government to meet emergencies, to safeguard them against threatened 
dangers, to establish standards and to aid them in extending or defending 
markets. Our property rights remain, but they undergo a change. We 
continue to exercise an individual initiative, but that initiative has 
larger possibilities, affects others more intimately and therefore is subject 
to more public control. Since government action means more to us, we 
call for more of it when in need, and object to it more strenuously when 
it hampers our plans. 

While changes of this type seem bound to continue they can be made 
more conducive to the general welfare if they are guided by understanding 
and good will than if they are the outcome of a confused struggle between 
shifting power groups. Whether we can win the knowledge which is 
needed to guide our behavior wisely and apply this knowledge effectively 

[ xxxiii ] 


to our common concerns, are questions which the Committee must 
raise, but cannot answer. 


The economic structure of course affects the other institutions of 
society, setting the stage for many of the activities of mankind and 
modifying the potentialities of life in innumerable directions. Its influence 
is particularly powerful on that great group we call labor, on our con- 
sumption habits and on the conditions of rural life. It also affects various 
other groups and such institutions as the family, the church and the 
school, and has much to do with the way in which we spend our leisure 
time. And all of these social institutions and habits affect the economic 
organization as well. All, indeed, are interrelated, and often the economic 
changes come first and occur more rapidly than the correlated changes in 
other parts of the social structure. 

Labor in Society. Wage earners may be viewed both as a factor in 
production and as a great group in modern society. In the former role 
their record of labor in production has shown steadily increasing effici- 
ency as measured in output per worker, an increase of 50 percent in the 
manufacturing industries since the beginning of the twentieth century. 
In part this has been due to the aid given by machines and in part to the 
organization of work more closely in accord with the principles of scien- 
tific management, supplemented by wiser consideration of personal 
factors in working relations. Strikes have declined about 80 percent since 
the World War. In so far as increasing production may be due to the 
growth of technology the prospect is very bright; in so far as it is due to 
harmony in relationships between employer and employee, the past 
decade may have been exceptional and friction and strife may arise more 
frequently in future. 

One of the problems of the future will be the condition of labor 
in industry and the part played by wage earners and their organiza- 
tions in influencing these conditions. This problem at one time centered 
around the question of decent physical conditions of work and the atti- 
tudes of employers and workers. Such conditions have been better since the 
war, and the growth of scientific management should bring about further 
improvements, but this is a vast task and there will no doubt remain many 
grievances and complaints without satisfactory means of adjustment. 

The problem of the conditions and role of labor has been associated at 
other times with the idea of industrial democracy, an extension into 
industry of the idea of political democracy with revolutionary possibili- 
ties. For a time, around the period of the World War, it appeared as if the 
movement might make a beginning here and there. In post-war years, 
however, the movement for better management has advanced and less is 

[ xxxiv ] 


heard today of industrial democracy. Solutions may be sought along the 
lines of management and plant organization or along the lines of industrial 
democracy. Which set of solutions proves dominant is an issue which 
will profoundly affect the status of labor in modern society and as such is 
vital not only to the workers but to the community as a whole. 

From the beginning of the century until the depression beginning in 
1929 labor's standard of life has been raised about 25 percent, as measured 
by the purchasing power of wages, although this increase prevailed 
through only a few of the thirty years. In the two years following 1929, 
the aggregate money earnings paid to American employees fell about 35 
percent while the cost of living declined 15 percent. 

Along with health and happiness, a high standard of living is a great 
desideratum of struggling mankind. Abundant natural resources, a slowly 
increasing or stationary population and an ever expanding technology all 
point over the years to a higher standard of living, if the various possible 
strains on the economic organization do not weaken it for too long periods. 
Such strains appear in business depressions, in wars, in revolutions or 
very rapid transformations and in weaknesses in some particular part of 
the structure. For the very near future the standard of living may decline 
because of the menace to wages caused by unemployment, the possible 
slowness of economic recovery from the depression and the weakness of 
collective action on the part of wage earners. Certainly every effort should 
be made to prevent any lowering of the plane of living. 

No doubt the adequacy of wages for meeting minimum standards of 
living will long remain a matter of dispute. The problem of wage adequacy 
is affected by the appeals of new goods such as radios, automobiles, 
moving pictures, telephones and reading matter. The number of such 
items in the future will be greater, and sacrifices in food or in other ways 
which affect health will be made, unless all of us can be better educated 
as consumers. There is, however, one interpretation which should be 
considered. Death rates are still much higher in the lower income groups 
than in others. Until a point is reached where the death rate does not vary 
according to income, it seems paradoxical to claim that wage earners are 
receiving a living wage. 

Poverty is by no means vanquished, although how widespread it may 
be is not now known for there have been no recent comprehensive studies 
of family income and expenditure. The indications are that even in our 
late period of unexampled prosperity there was much poverty in certain 
industries and localities, in rural areas as well as in cities which was not of 
a temporary or accidental nature. The depression has greatly intensified 
it. After this crisis is over the first task will be to regain our former 
standards, inadequate as they were. The longer and the greater task, to 
achieve standards socially acceptable, will remain. 

[ XXXV ] 


In addition to their effort to raise standards of living, wage earners 
have had a further objective in trying to shorten the hours of work, and 
since the beginning of the century hours have been shortened by about 
15 percent. But such an average figure conceals a great variety of condi- 
tions. In several industries the hours worked were as high as 60 per week 
in 1930 and in others as low as 44. Pioneer and Puritan habits and philo- 
sophies regarding long hours of labor have given ground slowly before 
the oncoming machine, but long hours of toil promise to be less in the 
future and with this lessening of labor comes the problem of how best to 
utilize the hours thus saved. 

While there has been gain to labor in higher earnings and shorter 
hours, there has been no such success against the terror of unemployment. 
Along with physical illness and mental disease unemployment ranks as a 
major cause of suffering. Fortunately it has been less extensive among 
married men than among the widowed, separated and divorced, and 
much less than among the single, if we may judge by a few sample studies. 
Fewer women than men have lost their jobs, and the old appear to have 
remained unemployed a much longer time than the young. According to 
an estimate commonly used there were 10,000,000 unemployed in the 
summer of 1932, although if there were a system of recording those out 
of work, the margin of error in this estimate might be found wide. 

Insecurity of employment is characteristic of the economic process, 
and no doubt if control of rates of change were possible, unemployment 
could be greatly reduced. Free land no longer offers an outlet. Emer- 
gency relief is inadequate. The larger problem seems to be that of 
making the proper application of the principle of insurance, discussed 

The membership of American trade unions declined from 5 million in 
1920 to 3.3 million in 1931, the first time in American history that the 
unions did not gain in membership in a period of prosperity. Of great 
significance also is the fact that in the big industries such as coal, meat 
packing and steel, the unions have lost ground and have made no gains 
in others such as the manufacture of automobiles. When other functions 
than membership are considered it is clear that the organization of 
labor has not gone forward as have other parts of the economic 
system. Organizations of employers and of employees have changed at 
unequal rates of speed. Unless labor organizations show a more vigorous 
growth in the future other resources of society must be drawn upon to 
meet these problems. 

Consumers and Their Perplexities. The rising trend of money 
incomes after 1900 meant that millions of families had more money to 
spend than ever before. The shortening of working hours meant that these 
consumers had more leisure in which to enjoy goods. The expansion of 

f xxxvi 1 


physical output meant that business men had a larger volume of goods 
to market. That recently invented goods bulked large among these 
products meant that manufacturers and merchants had to teach masses 
of men and women new tastes and ways. The changes which occurred in 
consumption habits before the depression seem explicable mainly in 
terms of these four underlying trends. 

To begin with the task of forcing new products into family and 
individual budgets: The sponsors of novelties made use of all the arts of 
publicity to arouse unsatisfied longings. Their success was promoted by 
the fact that people with more than their accustomed sums of money to 
spend do not know from past experience how they can get the most satis- 
faction from the margin, and must experiment a bit. Hence they are 
more than usually open to suggestions conveyed by advertising, or the 
examples of others. By extending widely the device of instalment selling, 
this margin of unaccustomed purchasing power at the disposal of buyers 
was made broader, and gave the promoters of novel products a still better 
attack upon the consumer's mind. Meanwhile, the increasing rapidity 
and efficiency of communications were making it possible to wage selling 
campaigns on a fighting front which stretched across the continent. It is 
doubtful whether any earlier decade in the country's history had seen 
the wholesale adoption of so many new goods, such considerable changes 
in the habits of consumers, as the years 1920-1929. 

The financial motives for launching new products have always been 
strong. The maker of a new article which appeals to buyers can hope to 
escape at least for a few years from close price competition. In 1920-1929, 
when output was increasing with unusual rapidity and wholesale prices 
on the whole were sagging, these motives were peculiarly strong. But 
the favorite methods of seeking to profit from new products seem to 
have changed in a measure. In the past, the novelty has often been held 
at a high price for years, and only gradually reduced to a level at which 
the masses of wage earners could afford to buy. Recently this process 
has been telescoped. Men who believed they had a novelty with a wide 
appeal often tried from the start to bring their article within the reach 
of as many consumers as possible, and hoped that they might realize 
the profits yielded by small margins multiplied by millions of sales. 

Faced by such tactics, the purveyors of long familiar goods have had 
difficulty in maintaining their shares in the consumer's dollar. In self- 
defense, they too have resorted to high pressure salesmanship, payment 
by instalments, and the like. Hence an enormous increase in the thought 
and the money lavished upon selling, and an enormous intensification 
of the attack upon the consumer's attention. Not only is the housewife 
solicited to buy for two dollars down and a dollar a month a dozen attrac- 
tive articles her mother never dreamed of; she is also told of unsuspected 

[ xxxvii ] 


merits in products she has used all her life, which now come in new 
packages under seductive brands. The task of making wise choices 
becomes harder the more products are diversified, the more genuine 
novelties appear in the list, the more old types are dressed up in new 
wrappings, and the more conflicting advice is dinned into the buyer's 

The difficulty is a profound one, resting in the twist given our thinking 
as individuals by our scheme of institutions. Under our form of economic 
organization, the economic status of a family depends primarily upon 
the size of its money income. Hence, we devote far more attention to 
making money than to spending it. For example, in passing upon tariff 
issues at the polls, we are influenced much more by arguments about 
the effect of import duties upon wages, employment, and profits than by 
arguments about their effects upon the cost of living. There is scarcely a 
trade or profession in the country which has not formed an association 
to safeguard its economic prospects. Every member of every one of these 
associations is also a consumer; that is the only economic characteristic 
we all have in common. But we give not a tithe of the thought to this 
basic common interest which we give to the task of getting more dollars 
for our individual selves. 

Our emphasis upon making money is re-enforced by the technical 
difficulties of spending money. Consumption involves the buying of a 
large number of different commodities, mainly in small lots. No single 
price means much to us; nor does the quality of the single purchase 
mean a great deal. To make much trouble about any one item scarcely 
"pays." To act wisely about all the issues involved is beyond our capacity 
as individuals. Yet our interests as consumers constitute our fundamental 
economic interests. Or are we mistaken when we say that most men work 
in order that they and their families may enjoy a comfortable living? 

It would seem that there is little likelihood of improving common 
practice except by the development of special organizations to promote 
our interests as consumers more effectively than we can promote them 
as individuals. Government bureaus might conceivably play that role; 
but so far as the American government is representative of the American 
people it shares the basic defect in our thinking, and therefore seems 
little likely to correct it. As money makers, we can be relied upon promptly 
to object to any official service to consumers which jeopardizes our 
individual interests as producers. To give detailed advice about the 
qualities and "values" of competing products would require continual 
revisions to keep the information up to date. Any bureau which undertook 
such a service would invite charges of favoritism. It is not easy to see 
how the government could surmount the difficulties. Private ventures 
toward supplying what is needed in the way of counsel are being tried; 

[ xxxviii ] 


but the scale of the services now rendered is small. "Home economics" 
courses are given to an increasing number of pupils in schools; but it is 
difficult to make these courses deal realistically with the rapidly shifting 
problems which the housewife confronts as a buyer. In short, the prospect 
of making our habits of consumption more rational and of getting the 
maximum satisfaction made possible by our technical progress is not 
bright. We may be losing ground, and perhaps we shall continue to lose 
for a long time to come. 

Rural Trends and Problems. The lives of the inhabitants of our 
great rural areas are being profoundly modified by a score of factors. 
Improved communications, the advantages of quantity production 
and possibilities of national marketing are increasing in all sections 
of the country that tendency toward uniformity of American life which 
has long impressed foreigners accustomed to the picturesque varia- 
tions of housing, dress, manners and speech in Europe. Those groups 
of the population which change their economic and social habits most 
slowly are now objects of this pressure. Cities have long been subject 
to rural influences through migration. Now rural communities villagers 
as well as farmers are obtaining from the cities, where most inventions 
are made, more of the new conveniences and amenities which invention 
offers, and find that they are entangled in perplexities, arising from the 
fact that new and old habits do not fuse harmoniously. Thus the economic 
union of the country and the village is assuming new forms, largely shaped 
by the automobile and the communication inventions; but the adjust- 
ments of school, church and government are proving difficult. The 
trend toward the village has weakened the open country churches, and 
has not brought country members to the village churches as rapidly as 
the country churches are closed. In the districts which have not adopted 
the consolidated school, there are still many small open country schools 
with only a few pupils. Village high schools and commercial schools 
draw students from the surrounding farms which do not share in the 
control of educational policy. Local governments set up a century ago in 
jurisdictions based upon travel by horse and upon wealth largely in farm 
lands are not suited to the extended areas of operations caused by the 
automobile and the railroad or to the newer forms and distributions of 
wealth. These illustrations show the nature of the problems of rural and 
village life caused by the economic and technological forces of change. 
The issue in part is one of an improved coordination of villages and farms 
but it is also a problem of better union with the cities. These relationships 
affect not a small class, but the whole body of the nation. There are 
approximately 30 million people living on farms and 32 million more in 
communities with populations of less than 10,000. While many rural com- 
munities may have passed the peak of difficulties in making their adjust- 

[ xxxix ] 


ments to the automobile and its concomitants and in these respects 
are becoming more stable, we must expect that further changes initiated 
elsewhere will necessitate further adjustments in the years to come. 
The process is one of diffusion of new agencies of change from centers of 
dispersal along the channels of communication, reaching last those 
places farthest removed from their point of origin. 

The plane of living in many far outlying rural sections has been but 
slightly affected by recent improvements. In the richer districts higher 
standards of living are set up, education is strengthened, and there are 
more new improvements. In poorer sections usually far removed from the 
great zones of transportation, there are higher mortality rates, and the 
knowledge upon which effective citizenship is based is more difficult to 
obtain. The idea of a national minimum standard in health, in educa- 
tion, in culture as well as in income below which citizens should not 
be allowed to fall is applicable to localities as well as to individuals. 
Recognition of the difficulties of the poorer or more isolated communities 
in helping themselves effectively has led to a wide use of grants in aid, 
whereby assistance from central sources or richer centers is extended 
under certain conditions. Because of the utilization of this principle in 
the past decade, fewer mothers have died in childbirth and many children 
are better educated, to mention only two effects. It should be realized, 
moreover, that the state aid extended to rural schools and other rural 
institutions is small in comparison with the contribution which the 
countryside makes to the cities in the form of the millions of young 
people, ready for life's work. The cost of rearing and educating the 
migrants from the farms to the cities during the decade 1920-1930 has 
been estimated by our experts at about 10 billion dollars. 

Maintenance of a national minimum by grants in aid would not be 
necessary if a very large area were used as the base for collecting revenue 
and making expenditures. In cities the budgetary unit is not the ward 
but the whole city, and thus there is no need of a grant in aid to a poor 
ward in order to maintain sanitation, health and education. Since com- 
munication is unifying regions as cities are unified, the problem centers on 
grants in aid or changes in sizes of governmental units. In either case the 
spirit of local government is affected, but that has already been modified 
by the communication agencies. 

How radically the countryside will be transformed by machinery, 
transportation and communication remains to be seen. These were the 
forces which made modern cities. Now they are extending their sway over 
rural regions with possible transformations in manners, morals and 

Of those gainfully occupied a smaller percentage is engaged in farming 
than in manufacturing, and the rural part of our population has fallen in 


numbers below the urban. Political institutions have lagged behind 
economic institutions, however, as is witnessed by the over-representation 
of rural regions in state legislatures. The population of three-fifths of the 
states remains more than half rural and by 1950 perhaps nearly half the 
states will still be more than one-half rural. These facts must be recognized 
in plans regarding education, business and other important phases of 
national policy. 

Minority Groups. Unless the recent restrictions upon immigration 
are relaxed or the declining trend in the natural increase of color groups 
is reversed, the much debated problem of minority ethnic groups will 
become less acute, although the relationship of Negroes and whites will 
raise continuing problems. From time to time new elements in the popula- 
tion may be introduced such as the recent accession of Filipinos and 
Mexicans. The development of distant peoples for whose welfare the 
United States has assumed a degree of responsibility has created a 
problem which requires attention, and there are signs of a more alert and 
sympathetic understanding. Yet our country is a colonial power without 
a well developed colonial policy. 

The problem of the minority groups both within and without the 
continental United States is not so much racial as cultural. Adaptation 
needs to be mutual if the varied strains are to be knit into a productive 
and peaceful economic and social order. 

Social discrimination, injustice and inequality of opportunity often 
block the path of adaptation both in the case of the foreign born and of 
native color groups. In the past the relations of Negroes and whites 
have been marred by evidence of friction and injustice, but more recently 
there has been a growing spirit of accommodation. As Negroes have 
moved northward and westward from southern towns and cotton fields, 
new questions have arisen over their entrance into industry and politics, 
questions which may become more widespread in the future. Their 
elevation in the economic and cultural scale will probably mean a more 
effective group consciousness. Rights of minorities need especially to be 
guarded and interpreted with understanding, such understanding as 
develops most soundly from mutual discussion and mutual action. 

While some of the problems presented by minority groups based upon 
race and nationality seem likely to decline in prominence, the cognate 
problems of groups with special interests based upon economic or occupa- 
tional needs will loom large in future. Many of these groups will un- 
doubtedly become more insistent in their demands and their methods of 
securing recognition may raise new questions. The forces of technology 
and science are leading to a variety of associations based on economic 
interests, and in a country whose political representation is geographical 
these non-territorial interests have no direct government channels 

[ xli ] 


through which to make themselves felt. Occupational and economic 
groups have thus been forced to devise other ways of expressing them- 
selves by propaganda, by lobbying and by work through associations. 
As society becomes more heterogeneous in its economic interests the 
problem of minority groups of this kind promises to become more com- 
plicated and more grave. Indeed group conflicts of one kind or another 
still remain as a national social problem. 

The Family. The family is primarily the social organization which 
meets the need of affection and provides for the bearing and nurture of 
children. It is sometimes forgotten that it could once lay claim on other 
grounds to being the major social organization. It was the chief economic 
institution, the factory of the time, producing almost all that man con- 
sumed. It was also the main educational institution. The factory displaced 
the family as the chief unit of economic production in large part because 
steam, which took the place of man power, could not be used efficiently 
in so small a unit as the home. Some of the economic functions of the family 
were transferred to the factory and store, although it remains the 
most important consumption unit. At the same time, the educational and 
protective functions were transferred in part to the state or to industry. 
Other institutions, organized on a large scale, less personal in character, 
less steeped in feeling, but with greater technical efficiency, grew up 
outside the home and gradually extended their influence upon the lives 
of members of the family in their outside activities. 

The changes in industry have been more rapid than those in the 
family, as witnessed by the survival of old forms of family law, of the 
patriarchal-employer conception of the husband, of the old theories 
as to the proper place of women in society, and of the difficulties of 
adequate child training. 

The various functions of the home in the past served to bind the 
members of the family together. As they weakened or were transferred 
from the home to outside agencies, there were fewer ties to hold the 
members with a consequent increase of separation and divorce. Divorces 
have increased to such an extent that, if present trends continue, one of 
every five or six bridal couples of the present year will ultimately have 
their marriage broken in the divorce court. This prospect has led to much 
concern over the future of the family, and prophecies that it will become 
extinct. Anthropologists, however, tell us that no people has ever been 
known without the institution of the family. On the other hand, many 
peoples have had higher rates of separation and remarriage, especially 
those with simpler cultures than ours. Few cultures, however, have or 
ever have had families which perform as few economic functions as do 
American families today dwelling in city apartments. These facts suggest, 
as does a projection of the divorce curve, that our culture may be con- 

[ xlii] 


ducive to further increases in divorce unless programs are instituted to 
counteract this tendency. The growing divorce rate apparently has not 
acted as a deterrent to marriage, for the married percentage of the 
population has been increasing during the 40 years for which there are 

With the weakening of economic, social and religious bonds in the 
family, its stability seems to depend upon the strength of the tie of affec- 
tion, correlated sentiments and spiritual values, the joys and responsi- 
bilities of rearing children. How to strengthen this tie, to make marriage 
and the family meet more adequately the personality needs and aspira- 
tions of men and women and children is the problem. This is a task in 
which the clergy and clinics are already showing an increasing interest. 
Much more knowledge is needed of the psychology of emotional expres- 
sion and there is opportunity and need for the artist as well as the moralist. 
There are few problems of society where success would bring richer 

Back of the facts on numbers of marriages and percentages of divorce, 
there are diverse personalities and the play of human emotions which 
defy exact measurement. Happiness and unhappiness have been little 
studied by science, yet happiness is one of our most cherished goals. As 
economic institutions are the clue to the standard of living, so, perhaps, 
the institution of the family is nearest that elusive thing called happiness. 
Opinions vary as to how much unhappiness there is in marriage, but in 
several studies, with rather large samples, generally among educated 
groups, around three-fourths or four-fifths are reported as happily 
married, either by the married persons themselves or by close friends 
of the families. The ratings are fairly constant. While science has thrown 
little light on what happiness is, it appears to be closely bound up with 
the affections. The family, of course, does not have a monopoly of the 
affectional life, and happiness may be found in work, in religion and in 
many other ways. Although closely related to the affections, happiness 
is based upon the whole personality and its successful integration, 
and this integration goes back to childhood and the family setting. 
The family is not only concerned with the happiness of adults but by 
shaping the personalities of its children more than any other institu- 
tion it determines their capacity for happiness. Further progress in 
mental hygiene may provide wholly unsuspected help in this field. 
The study of marriage and divorce may not only aid in stabilizing the 
family but may also help us on the road to happiness. 

Children. The world is just beginning to realize the importance of 
our early years in making us what we are. Much of what is thought of as 
heredity is really the family influence on the personality of the child, an 
influence quite as significant socially as any that the family possesses. An 

[ xliii ] 


attempt to realize the human potentialities here and to prevent some of 
the tragedies which occur is being made through parent education, but 
to reach the millions of mothers scattered in individual homes is no easy 
task and such influences on a large scale can be directed more easily 
through the schools. The home is a very conservative institution, as the 
leaders of Communism in Russia know, for the habits and beliefs of parents 
tend to be transmitted to the children. These potentialities of child 
development and the responsibility of parenthood make parent education 
a major problem of the future. 

An influence affecting the status of children is their diminishing pro- 
portion in society. In 1930 for the first time there were fewer children 
under five years of age in one census year than in the one preceding. For 
the first time also there were fewer children under five years of age than 
from 5 to 10 years of age. In some cities already there are not enough 
children to occupy the desks in the earlier grades. This decreasing en- 
rollment has not yet reached the high schools, but it is only a question of 
time, unless a larger proportion of those out of school are continued in 
school. Though the supply of children is being restricted, the demand for 
them continues. The value of children to society may be expected to rise 
and more attention will be given to their well being and training, espe- 
cially if wealth continues to increase. This interest has already been shown 
by the three White House Conferences on the child, the first called by 
President Roosevelt in 1909, the second by President Wilson in 1919 and 
the third by President Hoover in 1929, dealing with all aspects of child- 
hood and its conservation. 

The prospect of increased interest in children and their well being 
should not lead to complacency, however, for there is still imminent dan- 
ger to the child in nervousness and mental disorder, a danger which may 
be greater in the small family system. Nor should the damage to childhood 
from economic insecurity and its consequence for the family be forgotten. 
Furthermore, there is stimulus to action in the thought of the scarcely 
touched resources for better childhood. Indeed some educators believe 
that a better rearing of children may lead to a healthier psychological 
adjustment of man to civilization through the refusal to accept the irra- 
tional and unhealthy customs that exist all around us. Enthusiasts even 
see the possibility of directing social change through the manner of rearing 

With this interest and hope for such high rewards, there is a pressing 
need of research yielding specific and exact knowledge which may be 
applied generally by mothers, fathers and teachers. Even now in a terri- 
tory as large as ours and with knowledge so unequally distributed there 
is a lag in the application of available knowledge as well as in the desired 
coordination of home, school, church, community, industry and govern- 

[ xliv ] 


ment. The problem here is to utilize available resources to conserve child- 
hood in the midst of rapidly shifting conditions of family life. There is a 
possibility that the schools, nurseries or other agencies may enroll a larger 
proportion of the very young children in the future. In the United States 
20 percent of all children 5 years old were in school in 1930 as compared 
with 17 percent in 1900. 

Women. As production of economic goods was transferred from the 
home to outside industry, men's work went from the homestead to 
factories and stores. Women did not work outside the home to the same 
extent, partly no doubt because children, cooking and housekeeping 
still occupied them at home, although a number of their occupations, 
such as spinning, weaving, soap making and laundering were transferred 
to outside institutions. The number of women working outside the home 
is increasing. In 1900, 21 percent of all women over 16 years of age were 
gainfully employed while in 1930 the percentage was 25. In manufactur- 
ing the percentage of women employed is declining, but it is increasing 
rapidly in the clerical occupations, in trade and transportation and in the 
professions. Women are employed in some 527 occupations; but they 
tend to concentrate in a few callings, for about 85 percent of the employed 
women are in 24 different occupations. It is the younger women and the 
unmarried who form the bulk of women at work outside the home. One 
in four of all females 16 years old and over is employed and only one in 
eight married women is employed, but the percentage of married women 
at work is increasing much more rapidly than the number of women 
gainfully occupied and the average age of women who are breadwinners 
is rising slowly. 

Women constitute a potentially large supply of workers, their bargain- 
ing power is weak, there are some uncertainties regarding their continuity 
of employment, and for these reasons their wages are low. Their entrance 
into industry, then, presents a number of problems involving legislation 
and organization. 

The transfer of functions from the home has not been solely economic. 
Many functions have gone to the government, as for instance educational 
and protective functions, as well as regulatory controls over industry. 
With the losses of the family as a social institution, other institutions, 
clubs and associations, amusements, libraries, and political organizations 
are centers of activities outside the home. It has been said that some 
homes are merely "parking places" for parents and children who spend 
their active hours elsewhere. In the political field, since the ratification of 
the Nineteenth Amendment the percentage of women registering for 
voting is a good deal less than that for men, but from sample studies 
available it appears to be increasing, and women have sat in both houses 
of Congress and have held office in federal, state and local jurisdictions. 

[ xlv 1 


The diminution of the home occupations and activities of women 
opens several possibilities. One is the entrance of women into industry 
as has been noted. If there were more part time jobs the movement would 
probably be accelerated. Another possibility is the entrance of women 
into civic work and political activities. A third is the heightened stand- 
ard of the quality of housework. A fourth is more recreation and leisure. 
The future position of women will be determined by the degree of flow 
into these channels and the problem is to direct this flow into the channels 
most desirable. Meanwhile, the tradition lingers that woman's place is in 
the home and the social philosophy regarding her status has not changed 
as rapidly as have the various social and economic organizations. The 
problem of changing these lagging attitudes amounts in many cases 
to fighting for rights and against discrimination. Women are newcomers 
into the outside world hitherto mainly the sphere of men. Many barriers 
of custom remain and the community is not making the most of this 
potential supply of able services. 

Housing and the Household. Society is trying to strengthen the home 
and the family by many aids, such as courts, social legislation, home 
economics courses, and the church. An important effort to strengthen 
the family is concerned with good housing. The influence of housing in 
family life is observed in the case of the apartment house, which in its 
present form is ill adapted to children, but which presents savings in 
household duties and makes possible certain advantages of congregate 
living. New homes in multi-family dwellings were almost 50 percent of the 
new homes in cities constructed before the depression, but only a small 
proportion of families, twelve percent, live in apartments. Although the 
percentage of home ownership has been increasing slightly in the country 
as a whole, the mobility of population encourages renting rather than 
home owning. About half of the nation's families live in rented homes. 
The problem is how to secure reduction of construction costs, greater 
use of economic organization, science and invention. To meet the need 
of better housing at lower costs improved methods of financing by 
private organizations are being tried for families of the lower income 
groups. Proposals of changes in the system of taxation are also being 
made. The question of governmental aid in one form or another will 
probably arise in view of the social utility of good homes. The improve- 
ment of housing involves the organization of the whole community 
through city and regional planning. In cities the new distribution of 
population effected by the automobile has accentuated the housing 
problem in old residence sections near business districts. Bad housing 
in these areas and also in rural areas persists in part because of the 
durability of the construction materials used in the old houses. If the 
life of a house were short, or if the cost of modernization were small, it 

[ xlvi 1 


would be easy to adopt the new standards and conveniences in kitchens 
and bath rooms and in heating and cooling systems. New inventions in 
materials and designs of homes as well as in equipment are said to fore- 
shadow a revolution in housing methods and if so may greatly aid in 
working out the problem. 

Electricity is a form of power which can be transferred considerable 
distances and is adapted to the size of the household so that the number 
of electrical appliances for the home now reaches well into the hundreds. 
While steam has been the enemy of the household, electricity is its friend, 
but that electricity will restore the home to its former economic prestige 
is not likely. There are, however, 26 million women who have part or 
full time jobs as housewives and where there is a housewife there is a 

Schools. Reverence for the home, especially for the part it plays 
in building the personality and character of children indicates our 
potential interest in values other than material ones. Another social 
institution, the school, is a center of hope and concern. Few countries 
have ever been so eager for education as the United States. 

Nearly all children of the elementary school age now go to school 
in this country, although the attendance of the Negroes is much below 
that of the whites. Of those of high school age, about 50 percent are now 
in school evidence of the most successful single effort which government 
in the United States has ever put forth. An eight-fold increase of high 
school enrollments and a five-fold increase for college since 1900 is a 
great achievement but it must be remembered that there are still many 
who do not share these advantages. If, however, the growth of higher 
education continues a question may well be raised as to whether there 
will be enough of the so-called "white collar" jobs for those with higher 
degrees. Yet the higher education is clearly cultural and not wholly 
vocational and plumbers may discuss Aristotle with intellectual if not 
financial profit. 

As the volume of knowledge to be acquired increases in the future, 
the question as to how long a person should go to school will be raised. 
The biological age for marriage is reached some time in the teens 
and in most cases earning a living cannot long be delayed. This prob- 
lem will be worked out no doubt by improvements in the curricula 
of the high school and the grade schools and by night schools and pro- 
grams of adult education. With shorter hours of labor a program of edu- 
cation for adults may be developed and become widespread, although 
at present the great enemy to adult education is the competition of 

It will always be difficult to keep curricula in adjustment with chang- 
ing times and with new knowledge. Some schools and colleges still offer 

[ xlvii ] 


courses which are survivals from the scholasticism of the Middle Ages. 
The proportion of emphasis to be placed on vocational courses and 
trade schools as compared with the proportion put on the less specifically 
utilitarian subjects is one of the questions of educational policy. A democ- 
racy with a mechanical civilization and with an increasing heterogeneity 
of shifting occupations must ask much of its schools. 

The changes in industrial, economic and social conditions which have 
taken place in recent years create a demand for a kind of education 
radically different from that which was regarded as adequate in earlier 
periods when the social order was comparatively static. Members of 
a changing society must be prepared to readjust their ideas and their 
habits of life. They not only must be possessed of certain types of knowl- 
edge and skill which were common at the time when they went to school, 
but they must be trained in such a way as to make them adaptable to 
new conditions. 

Indeed, it may be said that the failures of coordination in modern life 
are attributable in no small measure to the tendency of human beings to 
fall into fixed habits and conservative attitudes. Many individuals are 
unsuccessful because of their inability to adjust themselves to the changes 
which take place about them. 

The schools deal with the world of ideas as well as vocational training. 
They are centers of thought. What ideas shall be passed on may be an 
issue in the future when the full power and influence of communication 
inventions in dealing with mass stimuli are realized. Among fascists, 
communists, churches, patriots and social reformers it is already a matter 
of grave concern who shall control the ideas of the children. 

The Church. The ideas and values of life have in the past centered 
in the church more than in any other social institution except the family. 
The role of the church in society was at one time extraordinarily broad. 
It dominated international relations; it was the patron of the arts; 
it taught the ethics of family life; medical practice and healing were 
among its functions; and education and learning were sponsored almost 
wholly by it. Religious issues determined migration and wars. As time 
went on the church became differentiated from the state, in large part 
it was separated from politics and education, and was dissociated from 
healing. Ethics and religion have been traditionally united, but whether 
this association will continue may be problematical. 

Up to 1926, the date of the last religious census, the church in the 
United States had increased its membership at about the same rate that 
the general population had grown. In the five years following 1926, the 
Protestant church membership the only one for which we have figures 
is reported to have increased 2.5 percent, less than the increase in popu- 
lation. It may be inferred that the rate of gain in membership has grown 

[ xlviii ] 


faster since 1929, as the influence of a depression is to increase church 
membership. From 1906 to 1926 the wealth of churches increased more 
rapidly than did the national income. This is explained in part by the 
adoption of better techniques of raising contributions. Sunday school 
enrollment increased, 1916-1926, less rapidly than did the number of 
children in the total population, although the youth organizations of a 
religious nature have grown very rapidly, especially during the World War. 

What has happened to religious ideas and beliefs is not recorded by 
the census, but it has been possible to draw some conclusions from studies 
of religious publications. In the proportion of religious books per 1,000 
listed in the United States Catalog, and in the percentage of religious 
articles listed in Reader's Guide there has been a decline since the begin- 
ning of the century, although both showed a marked increase when the 
right to teach the theory of evolution in the schools was before the courts. 
The proportion which the circulation of Protestant religious publications 
bears to all periodical circulation has also similarly declined. Analysis of 
religious writings for this period showed that the number of articles on 
traditional religious topics has decreased relatively, while certain revisions 
of traditional religious beliefs received increased attention, indicating a 
change in religious creeds. Some religious beliefs are coordinated with the 
scientific outlook of the day, and changes in science produce a lagging 
adjustment in religious beliefs. The problem of reconciling religion and 
science is often very serious for the troubled spirit of modern man. This is 
a special case of a general problem, namely, that of the adaptation of the 
church to changing conditions. The attempts to develop social programs 
under church auspices and the movements for church unity and cooper- 
ation among religious denominations are indications that the church is 
aware of this need. 

There is reason to think that the structure of religious organizations 
will persist, however their functions change. There are 44 million church 
members; the youth organizations reach 6 million young people and 
church property is valued at 7 billion dollars. How their functions may 
evolve is a grave issue. One function is that of ministering to the needs of 
people who suffer in a world of stress and strain. Another is that of serving 
social and community life. Still another function is that of an ethical guide 
and force not only for individual but also for social conduct. The church 
is legally separated from the state; it is not formally in politics, but it has 
taken interest in such problems as those of the family, marriage and 
divorce, the prohibition of the sale of intoxicating drinks, capital and 
labor relationships, crime, and many local community questions. The 
question is with what varying degrees of vigor and resource will the 
forward movements of the churches be directed along these different 

[ xlix 1 


Morals and Attitudes. Various agencies of society other than school 
and church are engaged in the generation and transmission of ideas, as 
for example, the press and the library, and these sources yield information 
on changing attitudes and interests. Publications in books and in articles 
show a growing interest in science and the scientific outlook. Attitudes, 
as judged by publications, have also undergone changes in recent years, 
indicating a decline of the authority of the past in religion, science 
and sex. Precedent is very much stronger in the case of government 
and law. 

Our experts made no extensive inquiry concerning trends in morals 
but it requires no special investigation to see the setting given by social 
change to the problem of rules of guidance for conduct. In a stationary 
and simple society such as is often found among primitive peoples the 
conditions of life are much the same from generation to generation. A 
father knows about what the conditions of life will be for his son and his 
son's son. Rules of conduct can be worked out in great detail. They be- 
come tested by experience and can be applied minutely to specific 
situations. The authority of the past is mighty. There is majesty in 
the law. 

In a changing heterogeneous society such as ours, many situations 
are new. Specific detailed rules of guidance based on the past are difficult 
to apply. Rules are worked out but they are abstract and tend to be 
too general for detailed guidance. The authority of the past tends to 
fade. Recourse to reason is difficult to apply and often fails in the emo- 
tional situations where the problems of conduct arise. Perhaps the study 
of mental hygiene may uncover new resources to help in these moral 

Codes of behavior and manners which are found carefully worked 
out in stationary societies serve the purpose of restricting the play of 
selfishness and egotism. In a changing society, the breaking down of 
these codes removes some of the restrictions on selfishness, and thus the 
problem of moral conduct is made more difficult in modern society. 

Social philosophies are somewhat like codes of morals in their resist- 
ance to change. Their changes often lag behind the social organizations 
with which they are connected. Thus economic philosophies in regard to 
laissez-faire and competition persist in fields where the combination 
movement is an accomplished fact. Old fashioned attitudes toward work 
persist under urban factory conditions. Much confusion is engendered in 
the minds of men and women and young people generally by the gradual 
crumbling of many solid dependable beliefs which sustained the people 
of the nineteenth century. 

Changes in habits are almost as difficult to measure as changes in 
ideas and morals. Habits and customs are being increasingly modified by 


changes in occupation and in residence. Less than one quarter of the 
population now lives on farms. The change in the manner of life indicated 
by this small proportion is profound, and now the habits within the rural 
regions are changing too. Our expert studies in the shifting patterns of 
occupations show many alterations in daily life. The old skills of workmen 
which required years to build up are disappearing in the face of mass 
production. We have taken to wheels; farmers use machines, gasoline 
engines and electricity; the farmer, like the city man, no longer speaks to 
everyone he meets on the road in his far-ranging car; more workmen are 
wearing white collars; middlemen multiply; engineers are increasing 
greatly in number, while the proportion of clergymen is decreasing; there 
were ten newspaper men in 1930 to one in 1870. And these are only 
random observations illustrative of our changing habits. 

Problems Presented by Increasing Leisure. As has frequently been 
pointed out men work fewer hours per day and per week and the home 
tasks of women are less time consuming; child labor has been greatly 
reduced, and though school time has been extended children may share in 
growing leisure no less than their parents. 

To profit by the potential market offered by increasing leisure, many 
forms of amusement or recreation have been provided on a commercial 
basis, as for instance, moving pictures, automobile touring, travel, radio, 
boxing, tennis, golf, baseball, football, dancing and "resorts." On these 
and similar recreations in the late 1920's our experts show that we spent 
10 or 12 billion dollars a year. The curves of growth for most of these 
expenditures show steep slopes. Seemingly we spend more time, certainly 
we spend more money on these modern diversions than our forefathers 
spent on their typical recreations of fishing, hunting, riding and visiting. 

How best to use growing leisure hours is an individual problem in 
which organized society has a large stake. Americans have but scanty 
traditional equipment for amusing themselves gracefully and whole- 
somely. Advertisements set forth what our forefathers would have called 
temptations. We are urged to yield to their enticements by notions of 
human nature which differ radically from those entertained even in our 
own childhoods. Man is not a machine, we say; his nature is not adapted 
to long hours of work at repetitive tasks; recreation is a physiological 
need as much as food; if wisely chosen it is good for both mind and 

In our early history what recreation was indulged in remained under 
the aegis of the home or the community, except for certain scarcely 
respectable types. We still feel that the recreation of other people should 
be supervised; but clearly the home cannot exercise efficient supervision 
when recreation, because of the greater mobility of people and for profit 
making reasons, is provided in the form of mass entertainment. A growing 



proportion of people admit that workers on machines or in shops and 
offices need recreation, and many of them also demand that the munic- 
ipality or state assume censorship and control. On the other hand, we see 
evidence of rising impatience with government supervision of people in 
their free hours. One of the problems which will still need attention in 
supplying this almost insatiable hunger for amusement and diversion is 
to devise a method by which the standards held essential by the com- 
munity may be protected, at the same time allowing for the free play of 
new ideas and entertaining novelties. 

By virtue of commercialization, the problem of leisure is bound up 
with purchasing. Not only automobiles, radios and theater tickets, but 
also many objects of household decoration or personal adornment are 
bought to make leisure hours more enjoyable. By way of evidence con- 
cerning our national scale of values, consider the following miscellaneous 
list of American expenditures in 1929: 200 million dollars were spent on 
flowers and shrubs, 600 million on jewelry and silverware, 400 million 
on newspapers, 700 million dollars on cosmetics and beauty parlors, 900 
million on games and sports, 2,000 million on motion pictures and con- 
certs, and 4,000 million on home furnishings. The outlays upon some 
items in this list have been heavily cut during the depression; but there 
is little doubt that expenditures upon recreations and indulgences of 
many kinds will tend to rise in the future as per capita income grows. 
Study of family budgets shows that as available income rises, smaller 
percentages of the total are spent on such essentials as food, rent, fuel 
and light, while larger percentages are spent on miscellaneous items. 
These facts concerning present expenditures contain a forecast of changes 
in the allocations of average family budgets in the future. 

Business, with its advertising and high pressure salesmanship, can 
exert powerful stimuli on the responding human organism. How can 
the appeals made by churches, libraries, concerts, museums and adult 
education for a goodly share in our growing leisure be made to compete 
effectively with the appeals of commercialized recreation? Choice is 
hardly free when one set of influences is active and the other set quiescent. 
From one and a half to two billion dollars were spent in 1929 on advertis- 
ing how much of it in appealing for use of leisure we do not venture to 
guess. Whether or not the future brings pronounced irritation with the 
increasing intrusions upon our psychological freedom by advertisements, 
the problem of effecting some kind of equality in opportunity and appeal 
as between the various types of leisure time occupations, both commercial 
and non-commercial, as between those most vigorously promoted and 
those without special backing, needs further consideration. 

The growth of great cities with the accompanying overcrowding has 
interfered with leisure time activities in another way, namely, by leaving 

[ Hi ] 


space neither sufficient nor safe for active outdoor play. While the newer 
trends outward from the most congested central portions of these districts 
may relieve the deficiency in part, the reservation of necessary areas or 
the provision of equivalent facilities of other types remains as a problem 
for many communities. 

The development by the government of parks, playgrounds, camping 
places and bathing beaches is an attempt to solve the problem. In recent 
years since automobiles have been commonly used, the natural scenery 
of our country has been enjoyed much more than ever before. This enjoy- 
ment has been facilitated by the policies of federal and state government 
in setting aside from private use for the enjoyment of future generations 
places of great natural beauty in which our country is singularly rich. 
Among the opportunities offered by the broader range of modern recrea- 
tion there are few affording deeper and more lasting satisfaction than the 
contemplation of the scenes of nature. Indeed, one of the common bonds 
of experience among men of all groups and types is the enjoyment of 
natural beauty. 

The Arts. Not only in passive enjoyment, but in practice, art touches 
our hours of leisure much more closely than it does our working time, 
A comparison of the census records of 1920 and 1930 shows in general that 
artists of various kinds are increasing more rapidly than the general 
population. The trend of art in America must be treated primarily as a 
matter of opinion, but there is some factual material which indicates a 
growth in art interests, as for example the increase at all educational 
levels in art instruction as compared with other subjects, the growth of 
museum attendance the Metropolitan Museum in New York showing 
today a greater annual attendance than the Louvre in Paris. Upon certain 
points there seems to be general agreement: the stimulating effect of 
certain inventions, as for example coal tar colors and cellulose products, 
or the influence of electricity on music, an increased interest in the 
appearance of the home, the enlistment of art and artists by commerce 
and industry as an aid to sales. In architecture, the United States is a 
recognized leader. 

From a social point of view, as contrasted with art for art's sake, the 
problem of art, like that of religion and recreation, turns today on its 
service to man in his inner adjustment to an environment which shifts 
and changes with unexampled rapidity. Art appears to be one of the great 
forces which stand between maladjusted man and mental breakdown, 
bringing him comfort, serenity and joy. 

It appears, from inquiries, that while conscious enjoyment of the 
fine arts is becoming more general, a much more widespread movement is 
the artistic appreciation, both as to color and design, of the common 
objects which surround us in our daily lives. That these changes are 



largely unconscious, and that they are seldom recognized as touching the 
field of the arts, does not detract from their significance. 

The artistic tradition of the United States is of course less rich than 
that of older countries. So far as beauty consists in the establishment of 
harmony between appearance and function, a rapidly changing society 
such as ours would appear to be a stimulating factor. So far as beauty 
depends on decoration, the history of the past would indicate that artistic 
adjustment to a cultural pattern cannot be achieved until that pattern has 
been in existence sufficiently long to permit of much experimentation 
with the various possibilities it offers. Private wealth has been extra- 
ordinarily lavish in its patronage but not always wise. Governments are 
just beginning to concern themselves with the encouragement of the 
arts. The school may well grow into an effective agency for the develop- 
ment on a nationwide basis of an elementary consciousness of beauty, 
and a more general understanding of the place of art in industry and 
commerce may prove to have great potentialities. 


Society has three problems which have existed throughout all history 
poverty, disease and crime. In addition there are many other distressing 
conditions which the inequalities of life occasion, such as ignorance, 
physical defects, biological inadequacies, neuroses, alcoholism, family 
desertion and unprotected children. The amelioration of these conditions 
is a major objective involving the techniques of modern social science and 
public welfare. The larger but longer task is prevention and the building 
of a more effective social structure. 

Public Welfare and Social Work. Much ameliorative effort in the 
United States has been concentrated in social work and public welfare, 
the extension of social work under governmental auspices. Other agencies, 
however, share in these activities. Many of the services now rendered by 
social workers were once the responsibility of the family. The family still 
gives some degree of protection to its members, but much social work is 
occasioned by the failures of families to meet these needs. The church 
has often stepped in where the family was inadequate, and has maintained 
orphanages, hospitals, homes for the aged, and the like. The local govern- 
ment too has always had its provision for relief out of local taxes but 
private effort was for generations unorganized; beggars sought aid where 
they could and the rich acted as the spirit moved. 

In the present century the growth of the services of social work has 
proceeded through social inventiveness to new standards transcending 
earlier conceptions. Governments have been extending their functions 
into these fields. More than two-thirds of the states have reorganized 
state boards or departments into state systems of public welfare, dealing 

f liv 1 


with child welfare, widowed mothers, the poor, the aged and infirm, the 
physically handicapped and the subnormal. This work requires the 
newly developed efficiency in public administration and the recent tech- 
nical advances of professional social work. 

How far public welfare activities will extend depends in part upon the 
conception of the state and upon the tax situations. The trend has been 
toward the transfer of private social work to governmental auspices, 
especially during the present depression. The further growth of public 
welfare activities is to be expected, particularly because of the range of 
problems which are dealt with in other countries through social insurance. 
The changes are fundamental and will require the maintenance and 
further raising of standards by the government and continued 
experimentation by private agencies. 

Ameliorative efforts will be greatly lessened if poverty is reduced. 
Prevention of poverty on a large scale may not seem practicable in the 
near future, yet much can undoubtedly be done in that direction. The 
guarding of dangerous machinery reduces the number of fatal or disabling 
accidents to the worker; increasing progress in fighting preventable sick- 
ness and disease reduces the amount of dependency caused by death of 
the breadwinner or by loss of earning power resulting from ill health; 
the practice of eugenics may lessen the number of indigents; and better 
education and training for productive work will have a beneficial effect, 
but above all higher wages and more regular employment will cut down 
the amount of poverty. 

The accidents of life as well as deficiencies and delays in any program 
of prevention will continue to afflict many and to leave large numbers 
dependent and in distress. For some time in the future we shall undoubt- 
edly be faced with the further problem not only of making more adequate 
provision for social case work treatment of those in need, treatment 
which will have preventive, corrective and relief aspects, but of providing 
more adequate relief in general. At the time these lines are written relief 
needs are running into the highest figures in our history. Coming after 
three winters of unprecedented drafts upon the public and private purse 
for unemployment relief the difficulties in the situation are forcing pro- 
posals aimed to provide relief on other than an emergency basis among 
others, those which make use of the insurance principle. 

Private insurance is now used by many to take care of burial, sickness 
and the needs of old age and to provide for dependents left behind at 
death. Optional insurance for individuals is purchased widely by those 
with adequate means. If wages were higher, larger numbers would un- 
doubtedly follow this example. Group insurance is developing more 
widely. The most far reaching application of the principle is compulsory 
insurance ordained by the states. It is now applied in all but four of the 


states in compensating for industrial accidents. Beginnings have been 
made in this country of insurance against old age and against unemploy- 
ment, but no state has yet undertaken to provide compulsory health in- 
surance. Mothers' aid laws, now in nearly all states, operate as a form of 
state insurance to protect the home. 

Social insurance does not remove the cause of dependency, although 
it may have an influence in stimulating preventive measures. It aims to 
spread the cost of the disabilities of life over a larger part of society and 
a longer period of time. The indications are that the United States in 
the near future will have to face the problem of providing more certainly 
and systematically for these ills which at all times, and particularly in 
periods of depression, have come to be a major task of public and private 
social work. 

Medicine. The practice of medicine is in a state of transition which 
is perhaps analogous to the state of industry during the early period of 
mechanization. There is a marked survival of traditional, individualistic 
practice, to which many physicians cling as did the early handicraftsmen 
seeing their independence and their creative skill threatened by the 

There is a serious dearth of physicians in rural districts, an oversupply 
in cities. The field of the physician has grown far too large for any one 
man to master, and the necessary equipment is often too elaborate and 
expensive, even for the rich doctor. Here the hospital and private clinic 
come in to play the part of the factory, furnishing the machinery which 
the individual craftsman cannot secure for himself or, indeed, use if he 
could, so complicated has it become. 

The private clinic represents an effort at cooperation in the inter- 
est, not only of efficiency, but also of economy and protection against 
the evils of unrestricted competition. Such an effort does not, how- 
ever, strike at the deeper lying problems of present day medical 
practice, namely the uneven distribution of service and the more uneven 
distribution of its costs. Medical organization has not changed as rapidly 
as scientific medical research. 

To meet these problems organization is needed, of which three types 
may be mentioned. One is the growth of private organizations, of which 
examples are found in universities and industries, which might be devel- 
oped on a community basis. Aid and regulation by the state may be a 
feature. Another type is found in the rise of governmental health bureaus, 
federal, state, county, and municipal, which apparently without much 
deliberate planning have increased the amount and scope of their work. 
A third type, compulsory health insurance, has been tried for many 
years by European nations. It seems probable that this latter method 
will be considered by the American public at some time in the future. 

[ Ivi 1 


Naturally, scrutiny will have to be given to the weaknesses of the Euro- 
pean system and the changes which will be needed to be coordinated 
with the practice in this country. 

The concern of social policy regarding medicine is with the extent 
and direction of the development of these different types of organized 
medicine. The problem is to make available to the whole people the 
results of scientific research and experiment at a reasonable cost. 

Crime. The modern view of crime is that it is not a thing apart, 
like cancer; not something which can be isolated and treated as a single 
phenomenon by such simple devices as punishment and prison walls. 
It is one manifestation of a complex set of forces in society; it is as 
complex as the environment which influences it; it is affected by the 
transition in business practices and morality; it is related to the gang 
life of children ; it is influenced by inventions, notably by the automobile. 
The multiplication of laws, the presence of poverty and the overcrowding 
of urban areas are parts of its background. While crime is the net resultant 
of exceedingly complex forces, it has specific features which can be dealt 
with, as has been shown in the series of special reports from the National 
Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement. 

Whether crime is increasing or not is difficult to determine. Those who 
know most about the subject hesitate to say that there has been a 
"crime wave," and where it has occurred. The collection at regular 
intervals of reliable and comparable statistics of crime and the various 
phases of its treatment and control has been sadly neglected in this 
country. One step toward dealing with crime is to get reliable information 
about its various manifestations. It has been possible, however, by selecting 
several states and cities which have fairly reliable statistics of crime to 
secure some indications as to trends, particularly since the various series 
run somewhat parallel. The index numbers of arrests per capita of adult 
population (after the subtraction of those for traffic, automobile law offen- 
ses and drunkenness) in 7 selected cities were 80 in 1900, 96 in 1910, 100 in 
1920, 139 in 1925 and 110 in 1930. The data seem to show an increase in 
crime since the beginning of the century, but hardly a crime wave, if by that 
is meant an extraordinary rise in the number of criminal acts committed. 

As to the total amount of crime, probably about 16 major offenses are 
committed in a year per 1,000 population in the smaller and larger cities. 
These are crimes reported to the police, which may not be a complete 
list. For the total population the rate would not be so high, since the 
very large rural population is not included, and there the rates are 
known to be lower. 

To a certain extent crime is a creation of the changing regulations of 
society and of the attempts to enforce them. The more rules there are to 
break the larger is the number broken. Much law breaking arises, for 

f Ivii 1 


instance, in the attempt to prohibit or regulate gambling, prostitution, or 
selling intoxicating beverages. Laws concerning these types of behavior 
vary from time to time and from country to country. The number of 
criminal laws is increasing. There has been a growth of about 40 percent 
in the 30 years from 1900 to 1930 in selected states as measured by sec- 
tions in their criminal codes. Society seems to have a penchant for multi- 
plying rules. The number of sections in the constitution and by-laws of 
the New York Stock Exchange increased 46 percent from 1914 to 1925, 
and the North Central Association of Colleges and Universities added 33 
percent to the number of sections in its governing standards in the 18 
years from 1912 to 1930. 

This tendency to make rules and regulations is itself a significant 
phase of modern life and it stands out boldly against the pioneer back- 
ground of America, where relatively few organizational rules existed or 
where they were changed less frequently. Rules multiply through the 
translation of customs into written regulations. This formal change is not 
the whole story; for it would seem that the process of social change itself 
leads to more regulations. New inventions, social or other, call for new 
standardizations of behavior in cases where tradition provides little 
guidance. Moreover the process of social change probably encourages 
rule making. Conformity to new regulations takes time to learn; it is a 
part of the complex adjustments to the increasing heterogeneity of soci- 
ety. Recent rules usually lack the established character of laws of the past. 

There seems little prospect that the task of making new rules, revising 
old ones, and enforcing both sets will ever be finished, or that the problem 
of dealing with law breakers will grow less important. A society without 
crime appears more remote than a society without poverty. The number 
of prisoners committed for the more serious offenses has increased steadily 
in proportion to the population. Even though this may in part mean 
merely greater efficiency in apprehending and convicting offenders, we 
are in no position to say that the number of these more serious crimes 
is decreasing. Fines, however, are more predominant among the penalties 
inflicted. In Massachusetts they increased from 67 percent in 1910 to 
87 percent in 1930. 

Organized crime is a very serious phase of this general issue. Criminals 
who operate in significant numbers and repeat their acts organize for 
the purpose. Crime is in a way their business. Thus law breakers in other 
respects have taken over the "business" of bootlegging, gambling and 
prostitution, as well as robbery, kidnaping and blackmail and other 
crimes for profit. One can understand how illegal distilling of liquor in 
mountains, or how piracy on the high seas flourishes in isolation; but 
how illegal business can be carried on extensively in the heart of a 
city is less obvious. One explanation is that the organized gangs of 

[ Iviii ] 


criminals avoid contact with the law when possible, but where contact 
is unavoidable they seek to control the agencies of the law. The methods 
of organized crime are sometimes modeled after effective business 
techniques, in combination with many of the worst criminal practices. 
Racketeering, an especially insidious form of organized crime for profit, 
has grown up in many cities since the war. This attempt to control prices 
by violence instead of by business pressure levies a heavy tribute on the 
consumer and on the business activity concerned; and this appearance of 
the criminal in a dominating role over small business enterprise is a 
serious menace. Organized crime in general, however, is by no means a 
new or post-war phenomenon, although it has grown to unprecedented 
dimensions since the enactment of the Eighteenth Amendment. Boot- 
legging has put large funds in the hands of criminals. 

The problem of the treatment of the prisoner is significant not only 
as a measure for protection but also for prevention. The most fruitful 
approach to this problem of treatment for those who have been convicted 
is not from the point of view of punishment, but from that of segregation 
according to the types of psychological defects or deviations of the pris- 
oners, or according to the types of their social experiences, with a view 
to further diagnosis of their delinquent tendencies and the provision of 
care aimed to refit those who are not hardened and hopeless criminals 
to become safe and self-supporting members of society. The development 
of a policy in accordance with this view means many radical changes in 
prison procedure. 

Another fruitful and even more important attack is that of pre- 
vention, especially for those who pursue crime as a business. A program 
of prevention is necessarily wide in scope and can not be limited to 
police, courts, and prisons. It touches politics, elections, business ethics, 
legislation, gang life among youths, rearing of children, playgrounds, 
housing, the disorganized dwelling areas of cities, medical service and 
mental hygiene. Indeed almost the whole structure of society is involved. 

Basic Governmental Problems. Government has come to perform 
many functions for social welfare through public welfare departments, 
but these, of course, are only a small part of its activities. As the one 
sovereign organization government is or may be concerned with the 
problems of men at all levels. 

Problems of governmental reorganization and functioning constitute 
a major question of adaptation and adjustment. It cannot be supposed 
that the present procedures will be able to deal effectively with the compli- 
cated types of problems certain to arise in the future, indeed already upon 
us. Specifically the problems of government turn about the reorganization 
of areas, mechanisms, and authority; the recruitment of the necessary 
personnel for administration and leadership; adaptation of the techniques 

[ Hx 1 


developed through the social sciences; the elimination of spoils and graft; 
the determination of the scope of governmental activity in the fields of 
general welfare, social control, and moralistic supervision of behavior; 
the determination of the amount of governmental expenditure in relation 
to national income, and the ways and means of financing the govern- 
ment's operations; the position of the national government in its relations 
with other members of the family of nations; the development of liberty, 
equality and democracy, in the face of the concentration of great wealth 
in the hands of a few. Of major importance are the relations of govern- 
ment to industry. 

Overshadowing all these problems is the final question as to how to 
develop a governmental mechanism which will serve the interests and 
ideals developing through the recent social changes indicated in this 
report, how to adapt the best in the American tradition to the changing 
forms of modern life. 

Growth of Governmental Functions. Governments in general have 
been increasing in size and power. The only other great social organiza- 
tions to compare with them in rates of growth are our economic institu- 
tions. This growth seems to have occurred despite conflicting views 
as to what the functions of government should be. Some would restrict 
them to the minimum of agencies of protection, and resent any extension 
beyond the bare necessities of control and regulation. Others see govern- 
ment as a powerful organization which may be placed in the service of 
mankind in many different ways. The variety of governmental func- 
tions is amazing, when all types of government are considered, as is 
shown in several of the chapters which follow. Much of this extension 
has been through various administrative boards, which have been added 
from time to time and which eventually present a problem of coordina- 
tion. Not many of these bureaus are discarded, although some, notably 
those of war time, have been dropped. The rate of obsolescence is greater 
for legislative enactments. Such an extension of the administrative side 
of government is probably one of the reasons for the enhanced power of 
executives and the administrative branches of the government. 

In this field the most disquieting developments have been those of the 
intrusion of the graft system in the domain of the federal government, 
especially in the form of bootlegging, but also touching the Cabinet in the 
Teapot Dome case; and the rise of racketeering in certain urban com- 
munities. On the other hand notable progress has been made in many 
directions toward the strengthening of the public service in cities, states, 
and nation. 

Evidences of this have been the development of a more powerful 
executive, both in leadership and in management, the rise of administra- 
tive boards with wide powers, the tendency toward consolidation of 


administrative power on all levels of authority, the efficiency movement 
in the direction of professionalization of the service, the use of modern 
practices in dealing with the problems of personnel management and 
governmental operations and the growth of organizations of administra- 
tive officials throughout the country. 

At the same time large ranges of government have been dominated 
by avowed spoilsmen, corrupt, incompetent and partisan, or all three 
together, while graft and buncombe have been common; but on the 
whole notable advance has been made in the direction of increasing com- 
petence and integrity in governmental service, notably in fields like 
educational administration, recreation, health, and welfare, special 
phases of urban, state and national administration. Even in less promising 
fields such as police administration the beginnings of substantial and 
even surprising progress have been made in various localities. 

The broad question of the relation of the democracy to the expert 
in administration has not been solved, but in recent years surprising 
advances have been made toward the establishment of more satisfactory 
relations. Whereas in the period 1830-1870 the spoils idea was universally 
accepted and even acclaimed, and whereas in the period 1870-1900 the 
principle of merit as against party service and of continuity in tenure 
was recognized, in the period covered by this study the expert has been 
recognized because of his utility and indispensability in the practical 
operations of the government. While expertness and administrative skill 
were by no means universally recognized and adopted, the new trend was 
strongly in this direction, and the indications are that this movement 
will continue with increasing momentum. 

Relations of Government to Business. The increasing complexity 
and interdependence of social life precipitate more sharply than ever the 
problem of the interrelations between industrial and political forms of 
organization and control, and this has been accentuated by the rise 
of large scale industrial units resembling in form while rivaling in 
magnitude some of the governmental units to which they are technically 

Unemployment, industrial instability, tariffs, currency and banking, 
international loans, markets and shipping, agricultural distress, the 
protection of labor, have raised many vital questions respecting the 
relationship of government and business, and it is easy to foresee that 
many others will be raised in the future. Demands are now being made 
for more effective control over banking, investment trusts, holding com- 
panies, stock speculation, electric power industries, railroads, chain 
stores, and many other activities. The new forms of corporate structure 
raise many problems of legal control for the protection of the minority 
interests, and of the community itself. The service functions of govern- 


ment are also likely to expand because of the demands of the special 
economic groups. The poverty of the marginal and submarginal farmers, 
the insecurity of the wage earners in industry, the perplexity of the 
consumers, the plight of the railroads, are likely to call for, indeed have 
already demanded the close cooperation of the government. Unemploy- 
ment and industrial instability are of special urgency in their demands for 
governmental assistance, first of all in times of emergency, but also in 
preventing the recurrence of disastrous crises or in minimizing their rude 
shocks and ghastly losses. 

Under such circumstances the problem of the interrelationship 
between government and industry is of grave importance. Shall business 
men become actual rulers; or shall rulers become industrialists; or shall 
labor and science rule the older rulers? Practically, the line between so- 
called "pure" economics and "pure" politics has been blurred in recent 
years by the events of the late war, and later by the stress of the economic 
depression. In each of these crises the ancient landmarks between busi- 
ness and government have been disregarded and new social boundaries 
have been accepted by acclamation. The actual question is that of 
developing quasi-governmental agencies and quasi-industrial agencies on 
the borders of the older economic and governmental enterprises, and of 
the freer intermingling of organization and personnel, along with the 
recognition of their interdependence in many relations. 

Observers of social change may look here for the appearance of new 
types of politico-economic organization, new constellations of govern- 
ment, industry and technology, forms now only dimly discerned; the 
quasi-governmental corporation, the government owned corporation, 
the mixed corporation, the semi- and demi-autonomous industrial 
groupings in varying relations to the state. We may look for important 
developments alike in the concentration and in the devolution of social 
control, experiments perhaps in the direction of the self-government of 
various industries under central guidance, experiments in cooperation 
and accommodation between industry and government, especially as 
the larger units of industrial organization, cooperative and otherwise, 
become more like governments in personnel and budgets, and as govern- 
ments become agencies of general welfare as well as of coercion. 

The hybrid nature of some of these creations may be the despair 
of those theorists, both radical and conservative, who see the world only 
in terms of an unquestioning acceptance of one or the other of two exclu- 
sive dogmas, but these innovations will be welcomed by those who are less 
concerned about phobias than with the prompt and practical adjustment 
of actual affairs to the brutal realities of changing social and economic 
conditions. The American outcome, since all the possible molds of thought 
and invention have not yet been exhausted, may be a type sui generis, 

I Ixii ] 


adapted to the special needs, opportunities, limitations and genius of the 
American people. 

Those who reason in terms of isms or of the theoretical Tightness 
or wrongness of state activity may be profoundly perplexed by the 
range of governmental expansion or contraction, but the student of 
social trends observes nothing alarming in the widely varying forms of 
social adjustment undertaken by government, whether maternal, 
paternal, or fraternal from one period to another. 

The Costs of Government. Few governmental functions are self- 
supporting; most are paid for by the taxpayer. The question of the costs 
therefore is fundamental, particularly in the present depression when it is 
very difficult to pay the money with which to run the government. No 
one is in the mood for thinking of the growth of governmental functions 
when taxes are such a burden and when the costs of government continue 
on almost the same plane as before the depression. In a business de- 
pression, the costs of government remain high while the incomes of 
citizens fall and a larger percentage of income must be contributed 
to the government. This has been the case in all recent severe business 
depressions and the complaint of the taxpayer has always been loud 
on these occasions. 

This problem has never been solved. It is very difficult to cut down the 
total expenses of government as will be seen later from the nature of 
the payments. Business adjusts more quickly to the business cycle than 
does agriculture, and perhaps both more quickly than governments. 
Yet something can doubtless be done toward adjusting government 
finances to the exigencies created by business cycles. The tax bill of all 
the governments in the country in 1930 was ten and a quarter billion 
dollars, perhaps 15 percent of the incomes of the people. Of course, the 
crucial question is what do we get for our money. We spend about the 
same amount of money or more on recreation, approximately one-seventh 
as much on tobacco, and perhaps about one-fifteenth as much on cos- 
metics. How this money paid to run the government is spent is seen in the 
chapters on government and taxation. No doubt there is waste, but 
attempts to cut down have recently led in hundreds of counties and cities 
to closing the schools for a time and also to cutting down normal relief, 
such as mothers' pensions, just when it is most needed. The problem of the 
extension of the functions of government is then in part a problem of 
paying for them, which leads inevitably to the question of how this burden 
shall be distributed among the citizens. 

The tax burden was only 6.6 percent of the national income in 1913, 
or about one-half the proportion it was in 1930. How has this increase 
come about? One-fourth of it was due to the war; one-fifth of the increase 
went to education; about one-sixth was for good roads and about one- 

[ Ixiii 1 


seventh was for the various services of the municipalities, which are 
peculiar to great aggregations of people living in localities of high 
density. It is an interesting question what, if any, of these expendi- 
tures which doubled the tax burden we should have been willing to 
forego. The problem of the amount of taxes is the problem of what 
we want to spend our money for. The percentage of waste that can be 
eliminated, as the percentage of increase in efficiency, has not been 

The question of who pays the tax ranks with the question of how 
much tax should be paid. Even when some such principle as payment 
according to ability is adopted, the measure of ability remains to be 
determined, as well as the problem of administering the tax. The most 
noteworthy trend has been the rise of the income tax from 37 million 
dollars in 1913 to 2,700 million dollars in 1930, and of the inheritance and 
estate taxes from 26 million to 250 million, the rise of the gasoline tax and 
decline of the liquor tax. The general property tax still continues to yield 
nearly 50 per cent of the taxes raised, despite its almost universal condem- 
nation as a tax once adapted to our rural life but which has survived into 
an era to which it is ill fitted. No doubt the struggle over who shall pay 
what proportion of the tax will be raised anew in every fiscal crisis of the 
future. If the government's functions should grow very large, this issue 
will become one of almost overshadowing importance. 

Large possibilities of economy are found in the elimination of dupli- 
cating or outgrown units and agencies of government, in the adoption 
of sounder practices in purchasing and other governmental procedures, 
in the abolition of the graft and spoils system, in the better organization 
of personnel, and in general in the establishment of efficient public 
administration. These roads to economy are well understood and may 
readily be used whenever the will to do so is sufficiently developed. 
It must be recognized, however, that there are many fixed charges which 
are not readily reducible and contractual payments which must be 
met, and that extraordinary expenditures are necessitated in periods of 
grave unemployment. Less readily measurable, but equally important 
savings may be made for the community in such items as the reduction 
of the law's delay in the administration of civil justice, in the preven- 
tion of criminality and racketeering, in sounder policies of dealing 
with the defective and the delinquent, and still more broadly in larger 
planning and keener foresight in dealing with the terrible losses arising 
from the tragic tension of war and economic depression, with their heavy 
burdens on the taxpayer. In this range of opportunities material econ- 
omies may be made without crippling essential public services, and 
without overburdening the community from which governmental contri- 
butions must come. 

[ Ixiv ] 


Representation. The question of who pays the taxes leads naturally 
to the question, whom does the government represent. The theory of 
democracy is that the people own the government, but practice does not 
always follow theory. The provisions for representation were worked out 
long ago when distances were great and there were marked variations by 
locality and region. Now localities are marked rather by differences 
among their many groups and distances are short. Occupations are 
extremely varied; wealth is very unequally distributed; during all these 
changes the pattern of representation has remained the same. This 
lag has been partly compensated by the development of quick means 
of determining public opinion and by the propaganda activities of these 
highly organized groups. The slight decline in the percentages voting 
and the apparent increase in activities of pressure groups suggests a 
changing nature of representation. The problem of representation is the 
question of special interests in relation to general control the very 
difficulty which gave birth to the modern representative government. 
This problem of representation of interests is seen in extreme form in the 
monarchies of the past and in the communistic state of today. It will 
also be a problem in the approaching closer relationships of business 
and government. 

Laws. The government is also the supreme law-making body of 
society, although rules of conduct are set forth by many other social 
agencies. New inventions like the radio, the airplane and the automobile 
call for laws as do new social conditions, such as child labor in factories, 
chain stores or trusts. Laws in general lag. No doubt unwise laws are 
passed, but in cases where the laws which have been passed are admittedly 
wise, the delay and effort to bring them to passage have been great, as in 
the case of child labor legislation. After legislation has been passed it must 
be interpreted in the light of the Constitution and given judicial review 
where the social philosophies of judges become a factor in determining 
legality. On the one hand is the problem of safeguarding the body of 
the law; on the other is the problem of bringing laws up to date with 
changing social conditions. The conflict is fundamental. By very defini- 
tion a rule must be definite and reasonably fixed, otherwise it offers no 
satisfactory guidance. Yet these rules should be changed sufficiently 
often to meet the new situations in a changing society. Laws tend to 
appeal to the authority of the past but in a period of great change that 
authority may not offer any specific guidance. 

The problem of advancement of the judicial administration remains 
pressing. The necessary flexibility in our legal system in order to supply 
the needs of a changing society is dependent on personnel and the training 
and philosophies of that personnel. The lower forms of collusion between 
the courts and crime, the intermediate types of job brokerage in judge- 


ships and the more refined manifestations of judicial remissness are a 
challenge to our constructive statesmanship and at times an occasion 
of profound despair. Selection of enlightened and liberal judges is one 
effective approach. The awakening sense of responsibility on the part 
of the bar, the organizations of judicial councils and the broader social 
philosophy of the courts are indications of change. Modern legal education 
and socio-legal research are a leavening influence working toward the 
greatly desired adaptability. 

Some of the problems of jurisprudence mentioned above are being 
worked out by the extension of another social invention, the administra- 
tive tribunal, which often combines administrative, legislative and 
judicial functions in one body. Thus a health board adopts rules, renders 
decisions and carries out orders. Administrative tribunals have had a 
remarkable development within the 20th century and are an adaptation 
to the changing conditions. Their success argues for their further develop- 
ment, but they offer a solution for only a phase of the lag of the law. 

The immediate problem may be stated broadly as that of adapting 
an antiquated judicial system to rapidly changing urban industrial 
conditions, to new concepts and practices in the world of business and 
labor. A wide range of questions in the field of judicial organization, 
procedure and public relations must be covered along with the develop- 
ment of scientific methods and the adoption of a broader social spirit. 

It may be anticipated that the vigorous protests of leaders of the 
bar will be heeded in the next period of our growth, and that the spirit 
and procedure of the judicial branch of our political system will undergo 
changes of a substantial and helpful nature. In this the quickened spirit 
of responsibility on the part of the bar and of the judges is likely to play 
an important role, while the scientific spirit now beginning to assert 
itself in centers of legal training and research will be widely influential. 

Changes in the Structure of Government. The authority of govern- 
ment in the United States has traditionally been weakened by the division 
of powers between the national government and the states, between 
states and localities, and further by the three-fold division of powers 
between legislature, executive and judiciary. 

The first of these divisions was shattered by the events of the Civil 
War and has been progressively modified since that time, never more 
actively than during recent years. There is reason to anticipate the 
progressive development of centralization in the face of the rise of inter- 
state commerce under modern economic conditions, the increasing impor- 
tance of foreign trade, finance and diplomacy, and the sweeping changes 
in modes of communication. 

At the same time centralization in state government is growing, 
especially with respect to rural governments, and bids fair to advance 

[ Ixvi ] 


still farther. So rapidly is this movement progressing that the preserva- 
tion of an adequate degree of local self-government is a matter of great 
concern, and one of the large problems of the future is the determination 
of the desirable primary unit of government. 

In the meantime a new competitor for power has arisen in the form of 
the metropolitan region, which now looms large both in numbers and in 
wealth. Ninety-six such regions contain nearly half of the population of the 
United States and show rates of growth far above that of other sections 
of the country. This trend if projected for another generation would place 
the center of political power in the larger cities. In view of the present 
economic situation, there is some question whether this trend will be as 
strongly marked in the near future, but in any case the upward thrust of 
the urban center is one of the most striking features of the period under 
consideration, and gives rise to innumerable problems of politics and 
government. How shall the new metropolitan complex be drawn together 
in some less chaotic form of governmental framework including the city 
and its satellites, especially when they spread over more than one county 
or state; what shall be their relation to the state and national govern- 
ments; what shall be the principle of distribution of taxation and political 
authority; shall the cities be given home rule, or strictly regulated by 
states, or set up as independent commonwealths as has been suggested in 
recent years; or shall some other method be found as a result of the present, 
day groping toward a way out of an admittedly impossible situation ? 

Broadly speaking, notable advances have been made in the govern- 
ment of urban communities during the period just past, where indeed 
both the brightest and the darkest spots in American public life were 
evident. If freebooting has been highly organized in some cities, there has 
also been an impressive development of organized efficiency. The atten- 
tion given to public administration under the influence of such move- 
ments as the city manager plan has not been surpassed anywhere in our 
governmental system and gives promise of important advance. 

Rural government, while less spectacularly corrupt, has been in many 
cases incompetent, especially under the disrupting influence of the new 
distribution of wealth and population and the new methods of transporta- 
tion. At the end of this period, however, there has appeared intense in- 
terest in the reorganization of these outworn units and the reconstruction 
of new types of rural or rural-urban government, with striking experi- 
ments in rebuilding and strong prospects for an advance which ten years 
ago would have been regarded as Utopian. Transfer of functions, consoli- 
dation, coordination and creation of new units are methods already under 
way in the effort to establish a more practical form of local government. 

The power to act within the three-fold separation of governmental 
authorities likewise shows the emergence of centralized power, and the 

f Ixvii 1 


forecast indicates still further development toward the central focus of 

The executive has gained in prestige and power in the national and 
state governments, and in some cities where the power of the mayor has 
been expanded. Increased veto power, larger appointing power, facility 
in popular appeal, and growth of administrative functions have all 
tended to exalt the position of the executive. The familiarity of the 
public with the "strong man" with large authority in business and social 
relations has also helped in this movement. 

The almost omnipotent legislative authority set up at the outset of 
our national development has steadily lost to the courts on the one side 
and the executive on the other; and this process has gone on more rapidly 
than ever during recent years. The only exception of note is the rise of the 
city council in the city manager cities and the board in school affairs. 

Yet the maxim, "It is the function of many to deliberate and of one to 
act," contains the essence of much past experience and wisdom of govern- 
ment, under a variety of different systems, and it seems probable that 
representative bodies will occupy places of power and distinction in the 
organization of society, under any development of executive power or 
administrative authority. 

Democracy. Our country is cited as the great exemplar of democ- 
racy. Do the changing social conditions make the adaptation of democ- 
racy a problem ? We note lines, which if projected into the future would 
lead in opposite directions, one away from democratic control and the 
other toward a more perfect realization of its principles. 

From one point of view our observations show great cities from time 
to time in the grip of organized and defiant criminals, rural districts often 
forlornly governed, masses of persons losing confidence in the ballot and 
elections, and regarding liberty, equality, and democracy as mocking 
catchwords twisted into legalistic defenses of special interests. The swift 
concentration of vast economic power in a period of mergers, and the 
inability of the government to regulate or control these combinations, or 
in many cases to resist their corrupting influences, are not encouraging in 
their sinister implications ; the organized labor movement seems declining 
in numbers and vigor. The difficulty of providing a steady stream of high 
competence in political leadership and administration has contributed to 
the difficulty of our problem, while the expensive control of masses 
of people through the arts of organized publicity and propaganda presents 
its dubious aspects to the observer of democratic trends. Many have been 
led to conclude reluctantly that the emergence of some recognized and 
avowed form of plutocratic dictatorship is not far away. 

But in considering the movement of American democracy and its 
collective competence, it is important not to lose sight of specific and basic 

[ Ixviii ] 


tendencies revealed in this report and bearing directly on the future of 
our institutions. 

One of these is the habituation of the American people to large scale 
organization and planning in industry, keenly appreciated by the Soviets ; 
another is the American tendency to make relatively prompt use of the 
latest fashions in science and technology; the lack of sharply defined and 
permanent classes or castes obstructing either economic or governmental 
change, and finally, the wide prevalence of democratic attitudes and 
practices in social life. 

Our experts show in great detail the wholly unparalleled democratiza- 
tion of education in recent years; the unexampled democratization of 
forms of transportation, long an index of aristocracy; the democratization 
of recreation through the moving pictures, the radio, the park systems; 
the democratization and standardization of dress and fashion, often 
obliterating long standing marks of class. If we care to look upon democ- 
racy as a way of life, these fundamental facts are to be considered along with 
the corruption and ineffectiveness of much of our governmental machinery. 

An interpretation which seems to have a margin of advantage is 
that of the prospect of a continuance of the democratic regime, with 
higher standards of achievement, with a more highly unified and stronger 
government, with sounder types of civic training, with a broader social 
program and a sharper edged purpose to diffuse more promptly and 
widely the gains of our civilization, with control over social and economic 
forces better adapted to the special social tensions of the time, with 
less lag between social change and governmental adaptation and with 
more pre-vision and contriving spirit. 

Relations with Other Nations. Recent trends show the United States 
alternating between isolation and independence, between sharply marked 
economic nationalism and notable international initiative in cooperation, 
moving in a highly unstable and zigzag course. Immigration restrictions 
and high tariffs on the one hand, and a World Court, a League of Nations, 
and outlawry of war on the other. Some signs point in the direction of 
independence and imperialism of a new Roman type, reaching out 
aggressively for more land or wider markets under political auspices; 
others toward amiable cooperation in the most highly developed forms of 
world order. It is not unreasonable to anticipate that these opposing 
trends will continue to alternate sharply in their control over American 
policy. In any case there can be little doubt that the trend will be in the 
future as in recent years in the direction of more intimate relations 
through developing modes of intercommunication and through economic 
interchange and on the whole toward an increasing number of inter- 
national contacts; and this, whether the future pattern of action is 
predominantly imperialistic or cooperative in form and spirit. 

[ Ixix ] 


Whether the United States is growing more or less militaristic must 
also be judged in the dubious light of conflicting theories and conduct. 
Traditionally insisting upon the supremacy of the civil over the military 
power, we have held to that doctrine and have played an important part 
in all movements for the curbing or abolition of war, including participa- 
tion in a "war to end war/* On the other hand, our interest in foreign 
markets and loans has greatly increased, and the need of a strong hand in 
economic diplomacy has been emphasized. Our military and naval 
establishments have grown, and systems of military training have been 
expanded. Our soldiers have fought in Asia, Europe and Latin America. 
Powerful propagandas both for militarism and pacifism have been set in 
motion, and their clashes have been frequent but inconclusive. The 
outlawry of war and the strong war establishment have doubtless been 
accommodated by many minds as a practical version of Theodore Roose- 
velt's dictum to "speak softly and carry a big stick." The trends in short 
are conflicting and confusing, with the problems of war remaining as 
imminent and as grave as in the past. 


A Formal Summary of Principles. What we conceive to be the major 
problems revealed by our studies of social trends have now been passed 
in review. By way of summary, a list of these problems in the order of 
their social importance may be expected. But to draw up such a list 
requires agreement upon some criterion of social importance, as well as 
sharp definitions of problems which assume varying forms and meanings 
as they are viewed from different angles. A summary perhaps more 
serviceable to future thinking, although less directive of immediate 
action, can be provided by pointing out in abstract form the general 
characteristics which social problems have in common. 

The fundamental principles are that social problems are products of 
change, and that social changes are interrelated. Hence, a change in one 
part of the social structure will affect other parts connected with it. But 
the effects do not always follow immediately an induced change may 
lag years behind the original precipitating change. These varying delays 
among correlated changes often mean maladjustment. They may arise 
from vested interests resisting change in self-defense, from the difficulty 
with which men readjust familiar ideas or ideals, or from various obstacles 
which obstruct the transmission of impulses from man to man. These 
interrelated changes which are going forward in such bewildering variety 
and at such varying speeds threaten grave dangers with one hand, while 
with the other hand they hold out the promise of further betterment to 
mankind. The objective of any conscious control over the process is to 
secure a better adjustment between inherited nature and culture. The 


means of social control is social discovery and the wider adoption of new 

The Need for Social Thinking. On the principles just stated in bald 
form it is inevitable that the descriptions of social trends in the following 
chapters run forward to the series of questions raised but not answered 
in this summary review of results. If that were not the case, the descrip- 
tions would fall lamentably short of thoroughness. The Committee is in 
the same position as its collaborators. In formulating this general sketch 
of the complicated social trends which are remoulding American life, it 
finds its analytic description leading ever and again to a statement of 
problems which can be solved only by further scientific discoveries and 
practical inventions. 

To make the discoveries which are called for, to design, perfect and 
apply the inventions is a task which would be far beyond the powers of 
the Committee and its collaborators, even if we had not been excused in 
advance from making such an effort. If one considers the enormous 
mass of detailed work required to achieve the recent decline in American 
death rates, or to make aviation possible, or to increase per capita produc- 
tion in farming, one realizes that the job of solving the social problems here 
outlined is a job for cumulative thinking by many minds over years to come. 
Discovery and invention are themselves social processes made up of count- 
less individual achievements. Nothing short of the combined intelligence 
of the nation can cope with the predicaments here mentioned. Nor would 
a magnificent effort which successfully solved all the problems pending 
today suffice if such an effort can be imagined. For, if we are right in 
our conception of the character of cultural trends, the successful solutions 
would take the form of inventions which would alter our ways of doing 
things, and thereby produce new difficulties of endless variety. Then a 
fresh series of efforts to invent solutions for social problems would be needed. 

Implementing Public Policy. In beginning this report, the Com- 
mittee stated that the major emerging problem is that of closer coordina- 
tion and more effective integration of the swiftly changing elements in 
American social life. What are the prerequisites of a successful, long time 
constructive integration of social effort? 

Indispensable among these are the following: 

Willingness and determination to undertake important integral 
changes in the reorganization of social life, including the economic and 
the political orders, rather than the pursuance of a policy of drift. 

Recognition of the role which science must play in such a reorganiza- 
tion of life. 

Continuing recognition of the intimate interrelationship between 
changing scientific techniques, varying social interests and institutions, 
modes of social education and action and broad social purposes. 

[ Ixxi ] 


Specific ways and means of procedure for continuing research and 
for the formulation of concrete policies as well as for the successful 
administration of the lines of action indicated. 

If we look at the ways in which the continuing integration of social 
intelligence may advance, there are many roads leading forward. 

1. We may reasonably anticipate a considerable body of constructive 
social thinking in the near future developing in the minds of individual 
students of social problems, pioneers in social discovery or statesmen in 
social science. More widely in the future than in the immediate past 
we may expect the growth of thinking about the meaning of the great 
masses of social data which we have become so expert and generous 
in assembling. Is it possible that there is radical inconsistency between 
the industrious and precise collection of material and the effort to inter- 
pret and utilize what has been found out? Or the contrary, is there a 
compelling urgency that they be brought together both for the sake of 
science and of society? We may look for important contributions from 
individual thinkers with a point of view from which the focusing of social 
problems and their constructive integration is not excluded, but empha- 
sized. Some of these efforts may be widely divergent in conclusions from 
others, but they should have in common the interrelation of social prob- 
lems in closer meshed patterns than heretofore. It is also to be anticipated 
that the initiative in a wide variety of emerging problems will be assumed 
by research centers, groups, bureaus, institutes and foundations, devoted 
in some instances to more specialized and in other to more general treat- 
ment of social data. A considerable amount of such work is now being 
done in universities and independent research institutes, and the results 
are seen in the increasing penetration of social technology into public 
welfare work, public health, education, social work and the courts. While 
some of these inquiries may be fragmentary and often unrelated or in- 
adequately related, there should nevertheless be important findings and 
inventions of great value to society. It might be said, indeed, that 
while the most recent phase of American development in the social field 
has been the recognition of the necessity of fact finding agencies and 
equipment, and their actual establishment, the next phase of advance 
may find more emphasis upon interpretation and synthesis than the 

2. Nor can we fail to observe the interest of government itself, 
national, state and local alike, in the technical problems of social research 
and of prevision and planning. A very large amount of planning has 
already been undertaken, notably by cities and by the federal govern- 
ment, and to a less extent by states and counties. There is reason to 
anticipate that this form of organization of social intelligence and policy 
will develop in the future with the increasing complexity of social life 

[ Ixxii ] 


and the realization of the significance of social interrelationship. The 
monumental work of the census alone is an adequate indication of the in- 
terest of the organized government in the collection of social data, and 
there are many other illustrations of the deep concern of the government 
with the data upon which national policies should rest. The fact-finding 
work of the executive branch of the government has often been more sys- 
tematically directed than that of the legislators and the courts, but there 
are striking examples of the utility of inquiries in all divisions and on all 
levels of government, in legislative inquiries (especially the interim in- 
quiries) and in judicial proceedings as well as in the undertakings of the 
more recently developed judicial councils. It is not beyond the bounds of 
possibility that in dealing with some forms of problems, joint inquiry 
instituted under the auspices of two or more departments of government 
might prove to be an effective procedure, in that partisanship and pro- 
prietorship in findings would to some extent be minimized. 

3. The Social Science Research Council, representative of seven 
scientific societies, and devoted to the consideration of research in the 
social field, may prove an instrumentality of great value in the broader 
view of the complex social problems, in the integration of social knowl- 
edge, in the initiative toward social planning on a high level. Important 
advances have already been made in agricultural research, in industrial 
and international relations, and striking possibilities lie ahead in the 
direction of linking together social problems likely otherwise to be left 

It is within the bounds of possibility that this Council might care 
to take the initiative in setting up other machinery for the consideration 
of ad hoc problems, and for more and continuous generalized considera- 
tion of broader aspects of social integration and planning. It would 
further be possible for this Council to organize sponsoring groups in 
which there might be brought together the technical fact finding, the 
interpretation of data in a broader sense, and the practical judgment of 
those holding the reins of authority in government, industry and society. 

4. Out of these methods of approach it is not impossible that there 
might in time emerge a National Advisory Council, including scientific, 
educational, governmental, economic (industrial, agricultural and labor) 
points of contact, or other appropriate elements, able to contribute to the 
consideration of the basic social problems of the nation. Such an agency 
might consider some fundamental questions of the social order, economic, 
governmental, educational, technical, cultural, always in their inter- 
relation, and in the light of the trends and possibilities of modern science. 

In any case, and whatever the approach, it is clear that the type of 
planning now most urgently required is neither economic planning alone, 
nor governmental planning alone. The new synthesis must include the 

[ Ixxiii ] 


scientific, the educational, as well as the economic (including here the in- 
dustrial and the agricultural) and also the governmental. All these factors 
are inextricably intertwined in modern life, and it is impossible to make 
rapid progress under present conditions without drawing them all together. 

The Committee does not wish to exaggerate the role of intelligence 
in social direction, or to underestimate the important parts played by 
tradition, habit, unintelligence, inertia, indifference, emotions or the raw 
will to power in various forms. These obvious factors cannot escape 
observation, and at times they leave only a hopeless resignation to drift 
with fate. Social action, however, is the resultant of many forces among 
which in an age of science and education, conscious intelligence may 
certainly be reckoned as one. 

Furthermore, it is important not to overstate the aspect either of 
integration or cencentration in control, or of governmentalism. The unity 
here presented as essential to rounded social development may be 
achieved partly within and through the government and partly within 
other institutions and through other than governmental agencies. In some 
phases of behavior there are very intimate relationships between science, 
education, government, industry and culture; and in others the connec- 
tion may be farther in the background. Some of the centers of integration 
may be local, others may be national, and still others international in 
their point of reference. What is here outlined is a way of approach 
to social problems, with the emphasis on a method rather than on a set 
of mechanisms. More important than any special type of institution 
is the attainment of a situation in which economic, governmental, moral 
and cultural arrangements should not lag too far behind the advance of 
basic changes. 

The alternative to constructive social initiative may conceivably 
be a prolongation of a policy of drift and some readjustment as time 
goes on. More definite alternatives, however, are urged by dictatorial 
systems in which the factors of force and violence may loom large. In such 
cases the basic decisions are frankly imposed by power groups, and 
violence may subordinate technical intelligence in social guidance. 

Unless there can be a more impressive integration of social skills and 
fusing of social purposes than is revealed by recent trends, there can 
be no assurance that these alternatives with their accompaniments 
of violent revolution, dark periods of serious repression of libertarian 
and democratic forms, the proscription and loss of many useful elements 
in the present productive system, can be averted. 

Fully realizing its mission, the Committee does not wish to assume an 
attitude of alarmist irresponsibility, but on the other hand it would be 
highly negligent to gloss over the stark and bitter realities of the social 
situation, and to ignore the imminent perils in further advance of our 

[ Ixxiv ] 


heavy technical machinery over crumbling roads and shaking bridges. 
There are times when silence is not neutrality, but assent. 

Finally, the Committee is not unmindful of the fact that there are 
important elements in human life not easily stated in terms of efficiency, 
mechanization, institutions, rates of change or adaptations to change. 
The immense structure of human culture exists to serve human needs 
and values not always readily measurable, to promote and expand human 
happiness, to enable men to live more richly and abundantly. It is a 
means, not an end in itself. Men cling to ideas, ideals, institutions, blindly 
perhaps even when outworn, waiting until they are modified and given 
a new meaning and a new mode of expression more adequate to the 
realization of the cherished human values. The new tools and the new 
technique are not readily accepted; they are indeed suspected and 
resisted until they are reset in a framework of ideas, of emotional and 
personality values as attractive as those which they replace. So the family, 
religion, the economic order, the political system, resist the process of 
change, holding to the older and more familiar symbols, vibrant with 
the intimacy of life's experience and tenaciously interwoven with the 
innermost impulses of human action. 

The clarification of human values and their reformulation in order to 
give expression to them in terms of today's life and opportunities is a 
major task of social thinking. The progressive confusion created in 
men's minds by the bewildering sweep of events revealed in our recent 
social trends must find its counterpart in the progressive clarification 
of men's thinking and feeling, in their reorientation to the meaning of 
the new trends. 

In the formulation of these new and emergent values, in the construc- 
tion of the new symbols to thrill men's souls, in the contrivance of the new 
institutions and adaptations useful in the fulfillment of the new aspira- 
tions, we trust that this review of recent social trends may prove of value 
to the American public. We were not commissioned to lead the people 
into some new land of promise, but to retrace our recent wanderings, to 
indicate and interpret our ways and rates of change, to provide maps of 
progress, make observations of danger zones, point out hopeful roads 
of advance, helpful in finding a more intelligent course in the next phase 
of our progress. Our information has been laboriously gathered, our 
interpretations made with every effort toward accuracy and impartiality, 
our forecasts tentative and alternative rather than dogmatic in form and 
spirit, and we trust that our endeavors may contribute to the readier 
growth of the new ideals, ideas and emotional values of the next 
period, as well as the mechanisms, institutions, skills, techniques and 
ways of life through which these values will be expressed and fulfilled 
in the years that are to come. 

[ Ixxv ] 


THE President's Research Committee on Social Trends is indebted 
to President Herbert Hoover for the inception of the idea of a com- 
prehensive survey of recent social changes in the United States, 
for the initiative in calling upon the social sciences to undertake the 
studies and for constant encouragement as the work has gone forward. 

It is indebted to the Rockefeller Foundation for the generous grant 
of funds which made the investigations possible. 

To the Social Science Research Council and to the Encyclopaedia of 
the Social Sciences it is indebted for various services and personnel. 

An extraordinary number of institutions and individuals have assisted 
in the course of the work. To list them has proved to be impossible and 
yet the Committee desires to include all those of whom it has a record. 
The work has been decentralized so that at no time has there been avail- 
able a complete list of the names of those who have assisted in this 
widespread undertaking. For the same reason the categories in which 
acknowledgments are sometimes arranged have been impossible in the 
present case. In the early stages of the enterprise various experts were 
consulted, general advisers have given their aid as the researches pro- 
gressed, voluntary research assistants as well as those of the paid staff 
have contributed generously of their time, an experienced editorial staff 
has prepared the manuscripts and has seen the work through the press, 
critical readers have read preliminary and final drafts of the findings and 
the chapters and to all of these the Committee extends its grateful thanks. 

The names of organizations and individuals are presented in alpha- 
betical order as a method, however inadequate, of emphasizing the 
democratic reach and variety of the activities which have left their mark 
upon this undertaking. 

To the following federal departments and bureaus: Department of 
Agriculture; Bureau of Agricultural Economics; Bureau of the Budget; 
Bureau of the Census; Bureau of Chemistry and Soils; Children's Bu- 
reau; Department of Commerce; Office of Education; Federal Reserve 
Board; Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce; Department of 
the Interior; Department of Justice; Department of Labor; Bureau of 
Labor Statistics; Library of Congress; Bureau of Navigation; Public 
Health Service; Treasury Department; Veterans' Administration; 

Women's Bureau. 
[ Ixxvii ] 


To the following research bureaus and organizations: American 
Association for Adult Education; American Association of Hospital 
Social Workers; American Association for Labor Legislation; American 
Association of Museums; American Association for Old Age Security; 
American Association of Public Welfare Officials; American Association 
of Social Workers; American Association of Visiting Teachers; American 
Automobile Association; American Child Health Association; American 
Dental Association; American Federation of Arts; American Federation 
of Labor; American Institute of Architects; American Legislators' 
Association; American Library Association; American Medical Associa- 
tion (Council on Medical Education and Hospitals) ; American Municipal 
Association; American Psychiatric Social Workers; American Social 
Hygiene Association; Art Center, Inc.; Art Institute of Chicago; Associa- 
tion of Community Chests and Councils; Bell Telephone Laboratory; 
Brookings Institution; Bryn Mawr College; Bureau of Public Personnel 
Administration; Chicago Crime Commission; Chicago Real Estate 
Board; Child Welfare League of America; Cincinnati Bureau of Municipal 
Research; Cities Census Commission; Citizens' Bureau of Milwaukee; 
Columbia University; Committee on the Costs of Medical Care; Com- 
mittee on Financial and Fiduciary Matters of the Federal Council of the 
Churches of Christ in America; Committee on the Grading of Nursing 
Schools; Detroit Bureau of Governmental Research; F. W. Dodge 
Corporation; Family Welfare Association of America; Governmental 
Research Association; Home Missions Council; Institute of Public 
Administration; Institute of Social and Religious Research; Industrial 
Relations Counselors, Inc.; International Association of Lions Clubs; 
International City Managers' Association; John Price Jones Corporation; 
Kiwanis International; League of Kansas Municipalities; Metropolitan 
Life Insurance Company; Milbank Memorial Fund; Motion Picture 
Producers and Distributors of America, Inc.; National Advisory Com- 
mittee on Education; National Association of Building Owners and 
Managers; National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues; 
National Bureau of Casualty and Surety Underwriters; National Bureau 
of Economic Research; National Catholic Educational Association; 
National Catholic Welfare Council; National Committee for Mental 
Hygiene; National Committee on Law Observance and Enforcement; 
National Community Center Association; National Conference on City 
Planning; National Conference of Jewish Social Service; National Council 
of Parent Education; National Education Association of the United 
States; National Home Study Council; National Institute of Public 
Administration and Bureau of Municipal Research; National League of 
Women Voters; National Prison Association; National Probation Asso- 
ciation; National Recreation Association; National Social Work Council; 

[ Ixxviii 1 


National Tuberculosis Association; Ohio Institute; Ohio State University; 
Otis Elevator Company; Princeton University, Industrial Relations 
Section; Public Administration Clearing House; Quota International 
Club; Rotary International; Russell Sage Foundation; Soroptomist 
Club; State Charities Aid Association (New York); Summer Schools for 
Women Workers; Syracuse University; Tax Research Foundation; 
United States Golf Association; United States Lawn Tennis Association; 
University of Chicago; University of Chicago, School of Social Service 
Administration; University of Michigan; University of North Carolina, 
Institute for Research in Social Sciences; University of Wisconsin, College 
of Agriculture; Vassar College Library; Vermont Country Life Com- 
mission; Welfare Council of New York City; Western Reserve University; 
White House Conference on Child Health and Protection; Woman's 
National Democratic Club; The Woman's World; Women's National 
Republican Club; Workers Education Bureau of America; Yale Uni- 
versity; Young Men's Christian Association; Zonta International. 

To: Grace Abbott, Children's Bureau, United States Department of 
Labor; T. G. Addison, Institute for Government Research; Mary Louise 
Alexander, Batten Barton Durstine & Osborn Inc., New York; Charles 
N. Amsden, Los Angeles Civil Service Commission; John E. Anderson, 
University of Minnesota; Mary Anderson, Women's Bureau, United 
States Department of Labor; William Anderson, University of Minne- 
sota; George B. L. Arner, Bureau of the Census, United States Depart- 
ment of Commerce; F. A. Arnold, National Broadcasting Company; 
Charles S. Ascher, University of Chicago; Fred W. Ashley, Chief Assistant 
Librarian, Library of Congress; H. C. Atkiss, Yale University; W. R. 
Aumann, Ohio State University; W. L. Austin, Bureau of the Census, 
United States Department of Commerce 

Richard F. Bach, Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York) ; Elizabeth 
Baker, Barnard College; Frank Bane, American Association of Public 
Welfare Officials; Solomon Barkin, Institute of Public Administration; 
George E. Barnett, Johns Hopkins University; Ismar Baruch, Assistant 
Director Personnel Classification Board; Sanford Bates, United States 
Department of Justice; C. E. Batschelet, Bureau of the Census, United 
States Department of Commerce; La Verne Beales, Bureau of the Census, 
United States Department of Commerce; Charles A. Beard, New 
Milford, Connecticut; Dorothy Bemis, Lippincott Library, University 
of Pennsylvania; H. H. Bennett, Bureau of Chemistry and Soils, United 
States Department of Agriculture; W. E. Berchtold, Aeronautical Cham- 
ber of Commerce; Edward L. Bernays, Public Relations Counsel, New 
York; F. E. Berquist, Census of Mines and Quarries; William E. Berridge, 

[ Ixxix ] 


Metropolitan Life Insurance Company; Paul V. Betters, Secretary 
American Municipal Association; John D. Black, Federal Farm Board 
and Harvard University; Kenneth D. Blackfan, Children's Hospital, 
Boston; C. P. Blackwell, Director Oklahoma Experiment Station; Roy 
Blakey, University of Minnesota; Trevor Bowen, Institute of Social and 
Religious Research; George Bowers, University of Chicago; H. A. Bow- 
man, Columbia, Missouri; Isaiah Bowman, American Geographical 
Society; Howard Brancher, National Recreation Association, New York; 
Herbert M. Bratter, Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, United 
States Department of Commerce; Hugh P. Brinton, Jr., University of 
North Carolina; Rollo H. Britten, Public Health Service, United States 
Treasury Department; Albred M. Brooks, Swarthmore College; Sidney 
Brooks, International Telephone & Telegraph Corporation; Clarence J. 
Brown, Secretary of State, Columbus, Ohio; Frederick W. Brown, 
National Committee for Mental Hygiene; Josephine Brown, Family 
Welfare Association of America; Roy M. Brown, School of Public Welfare, 
University of North Carolina; Louis Brownlow, Public Administration 
Clearing House, Chicago; Frank J. Bruno, Washington University; W. 
G. Bryan; A. E. Buck, Institute of Public Administration; John C. Burg, 
Statler Hotels; E. W. Burgess, University of Chicago; John M. Byrne, 
Casket Manufacturers Association of America; George D. Butler, 
National Recreation Association 

Mark A. Cadwell, New York State Hotel Association; Alfred Cahen, 
College of the City of New York; L. G. Caldwell, Standing Committee on 
Radio Law, American Bar Association; S. P. Capen, University of Buffalo; 
John A. Carlyle, Washington University; Mabel Carney, Teachers Col- 
lege, Columbia University; Niles Carpenter, University of Buffalo; 
William J. Carson, University of Pennsylvania; C. C. Carstens, Child 
Welfare League of America; J. J. Carty, Media Records; C. A. Casey, 
Interstate Commerce Commission; Katherine Casey, Hahn Department 
Stores, Inc.; Ralph D. Casey, University of Minnesota; E. R. Cass, 
American Prison Association; Robert E. Chaddock, Columbia Univer- 
sity; Henry B. Chamberlin, Chicago Crime Commission; Joseph P. 
Chamberlain, Columbia Law School ; Alice Channing, Boston Council of 
Social Agencies; Roy D. Chapin, Secretary of Commerce, United States 
Department of Commerce; H. W. Chase, President, University of Illi- 
nois; Paul T. Cherington, New York; C. M. Chilson, Superintendent 
Pine City Consolidated Schools, Washington; C. L. Christensen, College 
of Agriculture, University of Wisconsin; Charlton F. Chute, University 
of Chicago; Charles L. Chute, National Probation Association; J. Maurice 
Clark, Columbia University; R. H. Coats, Dominion Statistician, Ottawa, 
Canada; H. F. Cofrancesco, New Haven, Connecticut; Joanna C. Col- 

[ Ixxx ] 


cord, Russell Sage Foundation; Arthur H. Cole, Harvard University; 
Arch Coleman, United States Post Office Department; L. V. Coleman, 
American Association of Museums; Selwyn D. Collins, Public Health 
Service, United States Treasury Department; Milton Colvin Tulane 
University; Alzada Comstock, Mount Holyoke College; Milton Conover, 
Yale University; Oscar Cooley, Cooperative League of the United States 
of America; William John Cooper, United States Commissioner of Edu- 
cation; William Copelan, Chief of Police, Cincinnati, Ohio; Philip Cor- 
nick, Institute of Public Administration; Edward P. Costigan, Washing- 
ton, D.C.; F. G. Cottrell, Bureau of Chemistry and Soils, United States 
Department of Agriculture; George S. Counts, Teachers College, Colum- 
bia University; John Cover, University of Chicago; Paul Cowles, Asso- 
ciated Press; Arthur J. Cramp, American Medical Association; M. D. C. 
Crawford, Fairchild Publications; W. H. Crocket, State of Vermont 
Publicity Department; Frank Crowninshield, New York 

J. O. Dahl, Hotel Management; J. F. Daley, Bureau of the Census, 
United States Department of Commerce; Walter H. Daly, W T arden, 
Indiana State Prison; J. E. Dally, Milwaukee Journal; Royden J. Dan- 
gerfield, University of Oklahoma; C. R. Daugherty, University of Pitts- 
burgh; Joseph S. Davis, Food Research Institute, Stanford University; 
Watson Davis, Science Service, Inc.; W. W. Dawson, Western Reserve 
University Law School; E. E. Day, Rockefeller Foundation; Neva R. 
Deardorff, Welfare Council of New York City; Arthur H. DeBra, Mo- 
tion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, Inc.; Henry S. 
Dennison, Framingham, Massachusetts; Edward R. Dewey, Bureau of 
the Census, United States Department of Commerce; John Dickinson, 
University of Pennsylvania Law School; Roy Dickinson, Printers' Ink 
Publications; May Diehl, School of Education, University of Chicago; 
Emily Dinwiddie, Director, Children's Bureau, Virginia State Depart- 
ment of Public Welfare; John Doan, Western Reserve University; 
Walter F. Dodd, Yale Law School; Carl Doering, Harvard University; 
H. Paul Douglass, Institute of Social and Religious Research; Louis I. 
Dublin, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company; Cornelius Du Bois, 
Time; Florence Dubois, New York; R. L. Duff us, New York Times; R. 
L. Duley, Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station; H. G. Duncan, 
University of New Hampshire; Arthur Dunham, Bureau of Social 
Hygiene; J. P. Dunlop, Bureau of Mines, United States Department of 
Commerce; H. C. Dunn, Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, 
United States Department of Commerce 

E. M. East, Harvard University (Bussey Institute); Donald Eastman, 
R. O. Eastman Company; Roscoe C. Edlund, Cleanliness Institute; 

[ Ixxxi ] 


Alba M. Edwards, Bureau of the Census, United States Department of 
Commerce; Newton Edwards, University of Chicago; Seba Eldridge, 
University of Kansas; Mabel Ellis, International Institute, Boston; 
Folger Emerson, University of California; Haven Emerson, Columbia 
Medical School; D. C. Ericson, University of Minnesota; Cortez A. M. 
Ewing, University of Oklahoma 

H. S. Fairbank, Bureau of Public Roads, United States Department of 
Agriculture; Fred Rogers Fairchild, Yale University; H. P. Fairchild, 
New York University; John A. Fairlie, University of Illinois; Clara 
Guignard Faris, Providence, Rhode Island; Royal B. Farnum, Rhode 
Island School of Design; Leah Feder, Russell Sage Foundation; Charles 
G. Fen wick, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania; R. W. Ferrell, National Advertis- 
ing Records; Arthur Fertig, Arthur Fertig & Company; Morris Fishbein, 
American Medical Association; Katherine Fisher, Good Housekeeping 
Institute; John A. Fitch, New York School of Social Work; Rose Fitz- 
gerald, Hunter College; Jean Flexner, Children's Bureau, United States 
Department of Labor; Russell Forbes, National Municipal League; 
James Ford, Harvard University; C. W. Foss, American Telephone 
and Telegraph Company; Eleanor Frankel, Amalgamated Clothing 
Workers; Felix Frankfurter, Harvard Law School; Everett Fraser, 
University of Minnesota Law School; Frank N. Freeman, University of 
Chicago; Ernst Freund, University of Chicago Law School; John W. 
Frey, Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, United States Depart- 
ment of Commerce; James L. Fri, National Retail Dry Goods Association; 
Gladys Friedman, Industrial Relations Counselors; R. F. Fuchs, Wash- 
ington University; Hugh Fuller, Atlanta, Georgia; J. W. Furness, Bureau 
of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, United States Department of 


Hugh Gallagher, Syracuse University; C. J. Galpin, Bureau of Agri- 
cultural Economics, United States Department of Agriculture; William 
S. Gaud, Jr., Yale Law School; John M. Gaus, University of Wisconsin; 
H. V. Geib, Temple (Texas) Agricultural Experiment Station, United 
States Department of Agriculture; Joseph A. Gerk, Chief of Police, St. 
Louis, Missouri; D. C. Gertler, Tulane University; Arnold Gesell, Yale 
University; Luella Getty s, University of Chicago; Mary Gilson, Uni- 
versity of Chicago; Corrado Gini, University of Rome, Rome, Italy; 
Elizabeth Goan, Fairchild Publications; E. A. Golden weiser, Federal 
Reserve Board; J. Goldhammer, International Telephone and Telegraph 
Corporation; Julian E. Goldstein, Director, Jewish Institute of Religion, 
New York; Charles Gordon, American Automobile Association; Harold 
F. Gosnell, University of Chicago; N. S. B. Gras, Harvard University; 

[ Ixxxii ] 


C. Hartley Grattan, New York; Richard Graves, University of Cali- 
fornia; Bertha Gray, University of Chicago; L. C. Gray, Bureau of 
Agricultural Economics, United States Department of Agriculture; 
Thomas Green, American Hotel Association; Mamie R. Greenfield; 
John Alden Grimes, Bureau of Internal Revenue, United States Treasury 
Department; Starke M. Grogan, Bureau of the Census, United States 
Department of Commerce; L. O. Grondahl, Director of Research, Union 
Switch and Signal Company; Ernest R. Groves, University of North 
Carolina; E. J. Guengerich, American Telephone and Telegraph Com- 
pany; John Guernsey, United States Department of Commerce; Luther 
Gulick, National Institute of Public Administration 

Alfred Haag, United States Shipping Board; A. E. Haase, Association of 
National Ad vertisers ; Louis Hacker, Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences; 
Robert M. Haig, Columbia University; Hugh E. Hale, Vice Chairman 
Eastern Group (railways); F. S. Hall, Russell Sage Foundation; Ray 
Hall, Washington, D. C.; Walton H. Hamilton, Yale Law School; Max 
S. Handman, University of Michigan; C. Hanes, Duke University; Lee 
F. Hanmer, Russell Sage Foundation; Agnes K. Hanna, Children's 
Bureau, United States Department of Labor; Henry Harap, Detroit, 
Michigan; J. B. S. Hardman, Amalgamated Clothing Workers; Albert 
J. Harno, University of Illinois Law School; N. F. Harriman, Executive 
Chairman, Federal Purchasing Board; George J. Harris, Bureau of 
Immigration, United States Department of Labor; Joseph P. Harris, 
University of Washington; Albert Bushnell Hart, Washington, D. C.; 
Ella B. Hart, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania; George A. Hastings, Washing- 
ton, D. C.; Carlton J. H. Hayes, Columbia University; J. W. Hayes, 
Crowell Publishing Company; Ralph Hayes, New York City; Will 
Hays, Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, Incor- 
porated; Jean MacAlpine Heer, Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Reuel G. 
Hemdahl, University of Chicago; Leon Henderson, Russell Sage Founda- 
tion; F. F. Hendrickson, World Convention Dates; Samuel Herman, 
University of Chicago; N. S. Herring, Duke University; Frank L. Hess, 
Bureau of Mines, United States Department of Commerce; D. F. Hewett, 
United States Geological Survey; B. H. Hibbard, University of Wiscon- 
sin; Norman E. Himes, Colgate University; Marion Hirschburg, Univer- 
sity of Iowa; William Hodson, Welfare Council of New York City; 
Margaret H. Hogg, Russell Sage Foundation; Arthur N. Holcomb, 
Harvard University; C. L. Holmes, Bureau of Agricultural Economics, 
United States Department of Agriculture; James H. Holohan, Warden, 
California State Prison; J. Edgar Hoover, United States Department of 
Justice; W. C. Hoppes, Bowling Green State College, Ohio; Glenore 
Home, University of Chicago; Kathleen Howard, Harper's Bazaar; 

[ Ixxxiii ] 


Mayne S. Howard, New York State Department of Taxation and Fin- 
ance; Henry D. Hubbard, Assistant to the Director, Bureau of Stand- 
ards, United States Department of Commerce; Henry Vincent Hubbard, 
Harvard University; Theodora Kimball Hubbard, American City 
Planning Institute; Amy Hewes, Mount Holyoke College; S. M. Hull, 
Western Electric Company, Chicago; Bishop C. Hunt, Harvard Univer- 
sity; W. M. Hurst, Bureau of Agricultural Engineering, United States 
Department of Agriculture: Robert M. Hutchins, President, University 
of Chicago; R. vonHuhn, United States Department of Commerce 

E. P. H. James, National Broadcasting Company; H. H. James, De 
Pauw University; F. W. Jameson, Montgomery Ward and Company; 
Ralph C. Janoschka, Bureau of the Census, United States Department 
of Commerce; Mary Jarrett, Welfare Council of New York City; Elmer 
Jenkins, American Automobile Association; Hans Jenny, Missouri 
Agricultural Experiment Station ; Katharine Jocher, University of North 
Carolina; Alvin Johnson, New School for Social Research ; Frank Johnson, 
Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, United States Department 
of Commerce; Guy B. Johnson, University of North Carolina; Dorothy 
Jones, University of Chicago; John Price Jones, New York City; C. E. 
Julihn, Bureau of Mines, United States Department of Commerce 

Waldemar Kaempffert, Science and Engineering Editor, New York 
Times; John J. Karol, Columbia Broadcasting System; A. J. Kavanaugh, 
Chief of Police, Department of Public Safety, Rochester, New York; 
John Keddy, Bureau of Industrial Alcohol, United States Treasury 
Department; Leila Keith, Vassar College; Benjamin B. Kendrick, 
Woman's College, University of -North Carolina; Constance Kent, 
Household Finance Corporation; A. R. Ketcham, R. L. Polk and Com- 
pany; V. O. Key, University of Chicago; O. E. Kiessling, Bureau of 
Mines, United States Department of Commerce; Samuel C. Kincheloe, 
Chicago Theological Seminary; Susan M. Kingsbury, Bryn Mawr 
College; Otto Kinkeldey, Ithaca, New York; S. M. Kintner, Assistant 
Vice President, Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company; 
Clifford Kirkpatrick, University of Minnesota; H. I. Kleinhaus, National 
Retail Dry Goods Association; Oswald Knauth, R. H. Macy and Com- 
pany; Hildegarde Kneeland, Bureau of Home Economics, United States 
Department of Agriculture; Charles M. Kneier, University of Illinois; 
Frank Knight, University of Chicago 

I. M. Labovitz, University of Chicago; H. T. LaCrosse, United States 
Department of Commerce; Harold A. LaFount, Federal Radio Com- 
mission; Walter Laidlaw, Cities Census Commission, New York City; 

[ Ixxxiv ] 


Harry W. Laidler, Executive Director, League for Industrial Democracy; 
Robert P. Lament, American Iron and Steel Institute; H. D. Lasswell, 
University of Chicago; Lewis E. Lawes, Warden, Sing Sing Prison, Ossin- 
ing, New York; Ellis Lawrence; Porter R. Lee, New York School of 
Social Work; A. W. Lehman, Association of National Advertisers; 
William M. Leiserson, Antioch College; Simeon E. Leland, University 
of Chicago; William Draper Lewis, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; J. G. 
Lipman, Director, New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station; Edna 
Lonigan, formerly Statistician, New York State Department of Labor; 
Milton E. Lord, Director, Boston Public Library; Lewis L. Lorwin, 
Brookings Institution; J. Edwin Losey; Alfred J. Lotka, Metropolitan 
Life Insurance Company; G. F. Loughlin, Geological Survey, United 
States Department of the Interior; Isador Lubin, Brookings Institution; 
Emma O. Lundberg, Child Welfare League of America; H. M. Lydenburg, 
Assistant Director, New York Public Library; Laula Lynagh, Citizen's 
Bureau of Milwaukee; Leverett S. Lyon, Brookings Institution 

T. H. MacDonald, Bureau of Public Roads, United States Department 
of Agriculture; Robert M. Maclver, Columbia University; Mrs. L. W. 
MacKenzie, American Association of Advertising Agencies; H. E. 
MacNiven, National Furniture Warehousemen's Association; Eugene 
McAuliffe, President, Union Pacific Coal Company; R. S. McBride, 
Washington, D. C.; A. G. McCall, Bureau of Chemistry and Soils, 
United States Department of Agriculture; L. J. McCarthy, International 
Magazine Company; Carl E. McCombs, Institute of Public Administra- 
tion; S. H. McCory, Bureau of Agricultural Engineering, United States 
Department of Agriculture; Francis L. McGarraghy; Kenneth McGill, 
University of Chicago; Rose McHugh, Fordham School of Social Work; 
K. L. McKee, American Electric Railway Association; Eva B. McKenzie, 
Ann Arbor, Michigan; Teresa McMahon, University of Washington; 
Wayne McMillen, University of Chicago; O. K. McMurray, University 
of California; Dallas Mallinson; Lida Mann, Bureau of Mines, United 
States Department of Commerce; D. B. Mansfield, Duke University; 
C. F. Marbut, Chief, Soil Survey, United States Department of Agri- 
culture; J. H. Marshall, Yale Law School; L. C. Marshall, Institute of 
Law, Johns Hopkins University; Stewart E. Martin; Robert Maxwell, 
Hearst Corporation; Samuel C. May, University of California; Bennett 
Mead, Bureau of Prisons, United States Department of Justice; W. J. 
Meehan, Superintendent of Police, Minneapolis ; Bruce L. Melvin, Cornell 
University; S. W. Mendum, Bureau of Agricultural Economics, United 
States Department of Agriculture; Lois Meredith, American Association 
of Psychiatric Social Workers; Lewis Meriam, Brookings Institution; 
John C. Merriam, Carnegie Institution of Washington; Julia Wright 

[ Ixxxv ] 


Merrill, American Library Association; M. C. Merrill, Office of Informa- 
tion, United States Department of Agriculture; Charles P. Messick, 
Secretary, New Jersey Civil Service Commission; Robert W. Metcalf, 
Bureau of Mines, United States Department of Commerce; Norman S. 
Meyers, Federal Trade Commission; Mary E. Milburn, Research Assist- 
ant, United States Department of Labor; John A. Miller, Electric Railway 
Journal; Justin Miller, Duke University; M. F. Miller, Missouri Agri- 
cultural Experiment Station; Alden B. Mills, Committee on the Costs of 
Medical Care; Edwin Mims, Jr., Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences; 
Helen Moats, University of Chicago; Gilbert H. Montague, New York 
City; A. J. Montgomery, American Automobile Association; E. W. 
Montgomery, University of Kentucky ; Hollister Moore, Chilton Journals ; 
E. L. Morgan, College of Agriculture, University of Missouri; M. F. 
Morgan, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station; Herman N. 
Morse, Home Missions Council, New York City ; Paul R. Mort, Teachers 
College, Columbia University; W. E. Mosher, School of Citizenship, 
Syracuse University; Rodney L. Mott, University of Chicago; Ernest 
R. Mowrer, Northwestern University; Mildred Mudgett, Family Welfare 
Society, Minneapolis; H. W. Mumford, Director, Illinois Agricultural 
Experiment Station; R. W. Murchie, University of Minnesota 

Frederick R. Neely, United States Department of Commerce; Morris 
R. Neifeld, Beneficial Management Corporation; Jack Neller, Tulane 
University; Charles Newcomb, University of Chicago; Mabel Newcomer, 
Vassar College; Bernard J. Newman, Philadelphia Housing Association; 

C. T. North, Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, United States 
Department of Commerce; L. J. Norton, University of Illinois; Frank 
W. Notestein, Milbank Memorial Fund; Rolf Nugent, Russell Sage 
Foundation; Alice Scott Nutt, Children's Bureau, United States Depart- 
ment of Labor; Paul Nystrom, Columbia University 

John O'Brien, Chief Inspector, Police Department, New York City; 
Charlton Ogburn, New York City; Rt. Rev. Edwin V. O'Hara, Director, 
National Catholic Welfare Council ; Herman Oliphant, Institute of Law, 
Johns Hopkins University; Lawrence M. Orton, Regional Plan of New 
York; Marguerite Owen, Secretary to Senator Edward P. Costigan 

D. S. Paoe, Curtis Publishing Company; George T. Palmer, American 
Child Health Association; James Palmer, University of Chicago; H. C. 
Parsons, Secretary, Massachusetts Commission on Probation, Boston; 
Raymond Pearl, Johns Hopkins University; O. P. Pearson, National 
Automobile Chamber of Commerce; Nathaniel Peffer; V. H. Pelz, 
Institute of Food Distribution; Rollin M. Perkins, College of Law, State 

[ Ixxxvi ] 


University of Iowa; Armstrong Perry, National Committee on Education 
by Radio; Jack B. Peters, Dorrance, Sullivan and Company; George M. 
Peterson, Giannini Foundation, University of California; A. W. Petschaft; 
Marlen Pew, Editor & Publisher; Joseph Pierson, Press Wireless, Incor- 
porated; James S. Plant, Essex County New Jersey Child Guidance 
Clinic; W. C. Plummer, University of Pennsylvania; Paul Popenoe, 
Institute of Family Relations; Kirk H. Porter, University of Iowa; 
F. R. Powell, Institute for Government Research; H. H. Punke, 

University of Illinois 

Stuart Queen, Washington University; J. H. Quier, J. David Houser and 
Associates; William J. Quinn, Chief of Police, City of San Francisco 

T. J. Rairioff; J. O. Rankin; A. G. Rau, Moravian College, Bethlehem, 
Pennsylvania; May H. Raymond, New York State Department of 
Correction; Alfred Z. Reed, Carnegie Corporation; Louis S. Reed; J. M. 
Reinhart; E. B. Reuter, University of Iowa; George S. Rice, Bureau of 
Mines, United States Department of Commerce; I. G. Richardson, J. C. 
Penney Company; Clarence Ridley, Secretary, International City Man- 
agers' Association; Harold Robinson, Yale Law School; Fred Rodell, 
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; H. O. Rogers, Bureau of Mines, United States 
Department of Commerce; E. C. Romine, Horwath and Horwath; J. C. 
Roop, United States Bureau of the Budget; S. McKee Rosen, University 
of Chicago; Sylvia E. Rosenburg, Hunter College; E. A. Ross, University 
of Wisconsin; Frank A. Ross, Columbia University; Malcolm Ross; Eve 
Rossel, Bureau of Personnel Administration, United States Department 
of Agriculture; R. E. Royall, Bureau of Public Roads, United States 
Department of Agriculture; James T. Ruby, Library of Congress; Jane 
Ruby; Beardsley Ruml, University of Chicago; Helen B. Russell; W. F. 
Russell, Teachers College, Columbia University; Franklin W. Ryan, 
Franklin Management Bureau; John A. Ryan, National Catholic 

Welfare Conference 

Marcus Sachs, Washington University; Morse Salisbury, Office of 
Information, United States Department of Agriculture; Robert M. Salter, 
Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station; D wight Sanderson, New York 
College of Agriculture, Cornell University; David J. Saposs, Brookwood 
Labor College; Frederick William Schenk, University of Chicago; Arthur 
M. Schlesinger, Harvard University; F. J. Schlink, Consumers' Research; 
Henry Schultz, University of Chicago; Ben M. Selekman, Associated 
Jewish Philanthropies, Boston ; Thorsten Sellin, Bureau of Social Hygiene; 
Joseph J. Senturia, Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences; William 
Shalfroth, American Bar Association; Dorothy Shaver, Lord & Taylor, 

[ Ixxxvii ] 


New York; Oliver Short, Employment Commissioner, State of Maryland; 
William H. Short, National Committee for the Study of Social Values in 
Motion Pictures; Jouett Shouse, Democratic National Committee; D. A. 
Shutt, Dominion Experimental Farms, Ottawa, Canada; Myron Silbert, 
Hahn Department Stores, Incorporated; Katherine E. Simons, Bureau of 
Mines, United States Department of Agriculture; Hawley S. Simpson, 
American Electric Railway Association; C. C. Sims, State Teachers, 
Murfreesboro, Tennessee; Henry Upson Sims, Birmingham, Alabama; 
John F. Skirrow, Postal Telegraph-Cable Company; Ruth Skom, Univer- 
sity of Chicago; Sumner H. Slichter, Harvard University; Bruce Smith, 
Institute of Public Administration; C. B. Smith, Extension Service, 
United States Department of Agriculture; George Otis Smith, Federal 
Power Commission; Herbert A. Smith, Forest Service, United States 
Department of Agriculture; Mary Phlegar Smith, Hollins College; 
Richard J. Smith, Yale Law School; T. Lynn Smith; Vernon G. Sorrell; 
W. U. Sparhawk, Forest Service, United States Department of Agricul- 
ture; Joseph Spengler, University of Arizona; Charles Spoerke, Central 
Police Station, Cleveland; J. R. Stauffer, Electric Railway Journal; A. W. 
Stearns, Massachusetts Commission of Correction; Bernhard J. Stern, 
Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences; William M. Steuart, Bureau of the 
Census, United States Department of Commerce; George Stevenson, 
National Committee for Mental Hygiene; C. L. Stewart, University of 
Illinois; Frank M. Stewart, University of Texas; Carl W. Stocks, Bus 
Transportation; George D. Stoddard, University of Iowa; Herbert R. 
Stolz, University of California; M. A. Stringer, New York Evening Post; 
Helen M. Strong, Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, United 
States Department of Commerce; French Strother, the White House; 
Wesley A. Sturges, Yale Law School; Frank M. Surface, Bureau of 
Foreign and Domestic Commerce, United States Department of Com- 
merce; Henry Suzzallo, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of 
Teaching; Earl Swisher, Harvard University; Allen B. Sykes, American 
Newspaper Publishers' Association 

Marion Talbot, University of Chicago; Fred Telford, Bureau of Public 
Personnel Administration; W. D. Terrell, Radio Division, United States 
Department of Commerce; Sophie Theis, New York State Charities Aid 
Association; Dorothy Thomas, Institute of Human Relations; W. I. 
Thomas, Social Science Research Council; Guy A. Thompson, American 
Bar Association; Elihu Thomson, Thomson Research Laboratory; 
Florence C. Thorne, American Federation of Labor; Elizabeth Todd, 
Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences; T. W. Todd, Western Reserve 
University; John F. Tremain, New York State Commission of Correc- 
tions; Leon E. Truesdell, Bureau of the Census, United States Depart- 

[ Ixxxviii ] 


ment of Commerce; Scott Turner, Bureau of Mines, United States 
Department of Commerce 

Lent D. Upson, Detroit Bureau of Governmental Research 

Harry Venneman, Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences ; Mark Villchur, 

Foreign Language Information Service; George B. Void, University of 

Minnesota; George von Tungeln, Iowa State College 

Harvey Walker, Ohio State University; Henry Wallace, Des Moines, 
Iowa; Richard J. Walsh, John Day Company; Edward P. Warner, 
National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics; G. F. Warren, Cornell 
University; A. W. Watts, United States Post Office Department; U. S. 
Webb, San Francisco, California; Elizabeth Weber, Hunter College; 
George S. Wehrwein, University of Wisconsin; David Weintraub, 
National Bureau of Economic Research ; Harry A. Wembridge, Cleveland, 
Ohio; Eleanor Wheeler, University of Chicago; George Wheeler, University 
of Chicago; Edna A. White, Merrill-Palmer School, Detroit; Max White, 
University of Chicago; Albert Whitney, National Bureau of Casualty 
and Surety Underwriters; Willis R. Whitney, General Electric Company; 
A. R. Whitson, Wisconsin Agricultural Experiment Station; E. H. Wieck- 
ing, Bureau of Agricultural Economics, United States Department of 
Agriculture; Dorothy G. Wiehl, Milbank Memorial Fund; Ray Lyman 
Wilbur, Secretary of the Interior; D. W. Willard, George Washington 
University; Harry Willbach, New York State Parole Commission; J. C. 
Willever, Western Union Telegraph Company; Arthur Williams, National 
Recreation Association; Faith Williams, Bureau of Home Economics, 
United States Department of Agriculture; Gertrude Williams, New York 
City; W. F. Willoughby, Institute for Government Research; E. B. 
Wilson, Harvard University; M. L. Wilson, College of Agriculture, 
Bozeman, Montana; James Wingate, Motion Picture Division, State 
of New York; C.-E. A. Winslow, Yale University; W. A. Winterbottom, 
Radio Corporation of America; G. Franklin Wisner, Federal Radio 
Commission; A. B. Wolfe, Ohio State University; Mrs. Chase Going 
Woodhouse, North Carolina College for Women; Helen Wright, Uni- 
versity of Chicago; F. A. Wyatt, University of Alberta 

Clyde R. Yates, New Haven, Connecticut; Arnold P. Yerkes, Inter- 
national Harvester Company of America; Hessel E. Yntema, Institute 
of Law, Johns Hopkins University 

Augustus D. Zanzig, National Recreation Association; Carle Zimmerman, 

Harvard University 
[ Ixxxix ] 




A the basis for its report of findings the President's Research 
Committee on Social Trends presents in the following summary 
chapters prepared by its collaborators and in a series of mono- 
graphs separately published the scientific results of its researches. 

The chapters and monographs are prepared with the primary purpose 
of revealing major social questions. They present records, not opinions; 
such substantial stuff as may serve as a basis for social action, rather than 
recommendations as to the form which action should take. 

As a scientific undertaking the researches in general have been limited 
to fields where records are available. In preparing certain of the chapters, 
notably that on the arts, continuous records proved very scarce ; for some 
of the chapters, such as that on social attitudes and interests, it was 
necessary to make extensive collections of data not previously recorded; 
for others, especially those on population and the utilization of natural 
wealth, the abundance of data in. one or more parts of the field led rather 
to problems of exclusion and selection. 

The scope of the researches was made as broad as feasible not only in 
order to yield a picture of changing society in the United States, but also 
to provide a framework within which emerging problems might be seen 
in their due relations. Other studies, such as those of the presidential Com- 
mittee on Recent Economic Changes and the various White House 
conferences have been drawn upon, not duplicated, and the schedule of 
investigation and publications was so arranged as to enable the collabora- 
tors to use the results of the decennial census of 1930 and of various other 
surveys, governmental and private which were in progress during the 
life of the work. 

The investigators were recruited with the advice of officers of the 
Social Science Research Council, of universities and other scientific 
institutions. Frequent progress reports were made by them and staff 
conferences were held from time to time as the researches progressed. 
Preliminary drafts of chapters were submitted for criticism as to accuracy 
and freedom from bias. In published form the chapters represent not 
only a treatment of the factors of social change, but an attempt to 
coordinate and integrate the evidence into a useful whole. 

Certain topics are excluded because for one reason or another they 
could not be fitted into the Committee's scheme. The current business 
depression is not explained. Much of the basic materials upon economic 

[ xciii 1 


changes have been treated in recent publications. Little is said about the 
fateful issue of war and peace, although the financial costs of past wars 
are set out in the chapters on the functions of government and on taxa- 
tion. Though foreign developments intellectual, political, economic and 
social have exercised a many sided influence upon American trends since 
1900, they are mentioned only here and there. There is no chapter on the 
growth of scientific knowledge in general, or of social science and social 
research in particular. 

Quite apart from these major omissions every subject to which a 
chapter is devoted has necessarily been treated summarily. In thirteen 
cases the chapters are supplemented by the publication of monographs, 
to which those who wish a fuller treatment of that subject may turn. 

This emphasis upon changing culture points to another limitation so 
general in character that it may be overlooked. The primary concern of 
these studies has been with social trends. The changes going on in a 
culture are the matters which require attention, because they present 
novel situations to which the people of a nation must adjust themselves. 
Yet a work dealing primarily with social trends may give an exaggerated 
impression of topsy-turviness in current life. Here and there chapters 
redress the balance by calling attention to features of culture which 
maintain themselves with little modification among the welter of new 

Another pervasive limitation of the following chapters is that the 
authors and collaborators, in their researches, have not been free, as is 
the everyday citizen, to pronounce upon social ills and to prescribe 
remedies. The committee's terms of appointment by the President con- 
templated a division of labor in the task of adapting social organization 
more closely to the nation's changing needs. To the committee and its 
co-workers falls the technical task of finding as accurately as possible 
what significant changes have taken place in American life since the 
beginning of the century. 

To refrain from expressions of approval and disapproval, not to 
make propaganda for any cause, is difficult for the student of social 
changes, for as private citizens, the Committee's collaborators have 
their individual scales of value, and some are -eager advocates of certain 
reforms. But, as sharers in this enterprise, one and all have striven faith- 
fully to discover what is, and to report their findings uncolored by their 
personal likes and dislikes, or by their hopes and fears of what may be. 
In so far as this effort has succeeded and no human being can be quite 
impartial, or is equally alert to all values the findings can be used by 
men and women of widely divergent opinions. Knowledge of social trends, 
such as the Committee has aimed to present, is no substitute for social 
action; but such knowledge is an indispensable basis for intelligent 

[ xciv ] 


action. Hence the Committee hopes that its work will prove useful to 
many groups engaged in practical efforts to promote the general welfare 
of the nation. Objective research of this type will be justified in the long 
run only as this division of labor heightens a community's efficiency in 
making social readjustments. 

The contributors who have made the researches set forth in these 
chapters and the monographs to follow have been bound rather strictly 
by the limitations of scientific methods. If they have departed from 
this procedure, in presenting problems or trying to look into the future, 
it will be clear to the reader that they are giving their own opinions 
regarding the significance of their findings. 

[ xcv ] 




HUMAN beings are the primary agency of social change. The rates 
at which the population grows, its geographic distribution and the 
proportions in which it is divided between farms and cities, the 
racial and national stocks from which it comes, its age trends, sex ratios 
and marital condition all of these help to determine the rapidity and the 
direction of past and future changes. In surveying recent social changes 
in the United States it is appropriate to begin with these basic factors of 
births, deaths and numbers living. With this definite knowledge in 
mind, we can better understand the changes in the ways that Americans 
make their livings, the values which appeal to them, their criticisms of 
themselves, the fears and hopes they entertain about the future. 


The growth of population in the United States has been one of the 
outstanding phenomena of world history for more than one hundred and 
fifty years. From about 2,500,000 in 1776, the population has increased 
to 122,775,046 in 1930, almost fifty-fold in little more than a century 
and a half. This chapter is concerned primarily with the period since 
1900, l during which the population gained about 47,000,000 or nearly 
two-thirds as much as it did in the century and a quarter preceding 1900. 

The 1930 census showed a growth of 17,064,426 since 1920, which 
exceeded by more than a million the largest increase during any preceding 
decade and which was equal to the total population in 1840. It should 
be noted, however, that the decennial rate of increase since 1910 has 
been considerably lower than that from 1900 to 1910 or from 1890 to 
1900, which last was, in turn, below that of any previous decade. Indeed 
the rate of increase of 15.7 percent from 1920 to 1930 barely exceeded 
that of 15.4 percent from 1910 to 1920. 2 (See Figure 1.) 

1 The monograph in this series entitled Population Trends in the United States deals in 
greater detail with a longer period. 

2 These rates have been adjusted to equalize the intercensal interval of 123 months 
in 1920-1930 and the interval of 116^ months in 1910-1920. 

[ 1 1 


Although the largest increase in population in any decade occurred 
between 1920 and 1930, the trend in annual growth was downward. 
(See Figure 2 which is based on section V.) Before the World War, the 
year of largest increase was 1913 when about 2,111,000 persons were 
added to the population. An abrupt decline then took place until the 
lowest point was reached in 1918, when the influenza pandemic and war 
time conditions restricted population growth to about 572,000. During 
the first few post-war years there was an equally rapid rise which reached 
a peak in 1923 with an increase of about 2,119,000, slightly more than 










K F 







1 20 








































I Inc 






1790 1800 1610 1830 1630 1640 1850 I860 I8TO I860 1890 1900 1910 1920 1930 1940 I960 I960 1970 I960 

FIG. 1. Population of the United States, and amount and rate of increase by decades, 

Estimated for 1940 and 1950 according to assumptions in section V. 

in the highest pre-war year. Since 1923 there has been another marked 
decline, each year showing a smaller gain than the one preceding, until 
1931 when the increase was only about 875,000 persons. Barring the 
abnormal year 1918, this is well below the gain during any other year 
since 1910 and during almost every year since 1870. 

It seems likely that the growth of population will be small in the 
future. Continuation of recent trends would mean that the population 
probably will be between 132,500,000 and 134,000,000 in 1940, between 
140,500,000 and 145,000,000 in 1950 and between 145,000,000 and 170,- 
000,000 in 1980. (Figure 1 and pp. 48-49.) This will mean an increase 
of 9,725,000 to 11,225,000 in the decade from 1930-1940 and between 

[ 2 ] 


8,000,000 and 11,000,000 from 1940 to 1950 compared with an actual 
increase of 17,064,426 from 1920 to 1930. 

Growth by Race and Nativity. What has been said regarding the 
rate of growth of the total population describes that of the white race, 
though slightly understating it since the percentage increase of whites 
has for many decades been larger than that of the total population. From 
1900 to 1920 the rate of growth of the white population was more than 
twice as rapid as that of the Negro (an unusually large differential), 


1 .8 
1 .6 
1 .4 
1 .2 

f^-Pc cen 






I9IOII9II 1912 1913 1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 1919 1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927 1928 1929 1930 1931 




1 .8 
1 .6 
1 .4 
1 .2 
1 .0 



FIG. 2. Population of the United States amount and rate of annual increase, 


but from 1920 to 1930 the Negroes nearly kept pace with the whites. 
(Figure 3.) Comparisons of recent decennial rates for whites and Negroes 
are somewhat affected by the apparently less accurate count of Negroes 
in 1920 than in 1910 or 1930. 3 But even after a liberal allowance for such 
a discrepancy, the Negro rate of growth during 1920-1930 is higher than 
during the two preceding decades, while that of the whites is the lowest 
on record. In the decades prior to 1910, the relative increase of native 
whites was sometimes well above that of foreign born whites and some- 
times well below. Since 1910, however, the differential in favor of native 

3 The under-enumeration of Negroes in 1920 as compared with 1910 and 1930 "would 
not appear to exceed 150,000," according to the 1930 census. Population Bulletin, Second 
Series (United States Summary}, p. 7. 



whites has remained large, a situation which is likely to continue. (Figure 

3.) 4 

As far as actual numbers are concerned, the white gain of 14,743,833 
during 1920-1930 was second only to that during 1900-1910, while the 
Negro gain of 1,428,012 was the largest on record. Both whites and 
Negroes, however, had a downward trend in annual growth during the 
last decade, that of whites falling the more rapidly. (Figure 4.) The 
largest addition to the white population amounted to about 1,958,000 



4 10 

- 10 

- 2O 


Foreign -born White 




FIG. 3. Decennial rate of population increase by race and nativity, 1900-1950. 
Estimated for 1940 and 1950 according to assumptions in section V. 

in 1923. 5 Since then there has been an unbroken decline in annual in- 
crease to about 785,000 in 1931. The largest Negro growth was about 
156,000 in 1921, with a steady decrease during the following years to 
about 86,000 in 1931. These declines amount to 60 percent in eight years 
for whites and 45 percent in ten years for Negroes. 

Foreign born whites increased from 10,116,068 in 1900 to 13,135,845 
in 1910, but have since shown almost no gain. In the years since 1913 
there have been only two, 1920 and 1923, when net immigration was 

4 For further discussion, see Chap. XI. 

5 In the Fifteenth Census most Mexicans were classed in the Mexican race, hence in 
this chapter the figures for the decennial growth of whites (both native and foreign born) 
exclude most Mexicans. In "Birth Statistics" and "Mortality Statistics" the census 
bureau does not separate Mexican births and deaths from white, hence the figures for 
annual growth of whites include Mexicans. 

[ 4 ] 


sufficiently large to offset the deaths of foreign born whites and leave 
much of a surplus for increase. During the other years from the close 
of the World War up to 1926, this group about broke even. In 1927 
an excess of deaths over net immigrants was recorded and the figure rose 
to more than 360,000 in 1931. If this condition continues it will rapidly 
reduce the number of foreign born whites in the population. 

The growth in the total white population has thus come increasingly 
from the native whites which include the native born children of white 
immigrants. The years of largest growth for the native whites were 1921 


+ 800 
+ 600 
+ 400 
+ 200 



-Total 1 














Miite 7 

















1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927 1928 1929 I93O 1931 

FIG. 4. Amount of annual population increase, by race and nativity, 1920-1931. 

a Mexicans are included with whites because births to white women and to Mexican women are not separated 
in birth statistics. 

and 1924, over 1,600,000 persons being added in each year. Although 
there has been a downward trend since 1924, it has been less rapid than 
that of Negroes. The native white increase in 1931 was about 1,140,000, 
which is more than 30 percent under the peak year of 1921, compared 
with a drop of 45 percent for Negroes. 

Mexicans, Indians, Japanese and other colored peoples increased at 
a more rapid rate than either whites or Negroes from 1920 to 1930. 
The numbers involved were small, however, except the increase of the 
Mexicans from about 700,000 to more than 1,400,000. It is the Mexican 
group which is mainly responsible for the fact that the rate of growth 
of the colored races as a whole has been slightly higher than that of the 

[5 ] 


white race during 1920-1930. This is the first decade since 1800-1810 
in which the differential was not in favor of the white race. 

In spite of these differing trends in rate of growth during recent 
decades, the changes in the relative importance of each group have been 
small. The proportion of native whites in the population increased from 
74.2 percent in 1910 to 77.8 percent in 1930, a little more than offsetting 
the decrease from 14.3 percent to 10.9 percent in the proportion of foreign 
born whites. Negroes constituted 9.7 percent of the population in 1930 
compared with 10.7 percent in 1910, continuing the downward trend 
which has lasted over a century. The proportion of "other colored" 
rose from 0.8 percent to 1.7 percent during the two decades or nearly 
as much as the proportion of Negroes declined. 

In the future it seems probable that native whites will increase in 
numbers more rapidly than Negroes and that foreign born whites will 
decrease. (Figure 3.) According to the assumptions in section V, a popula- 
tion of 143,000,000 in 1950 is likely to contain about 116,000,000 native 
whites, 10,500,000 foreign whites, and 14,000,000 Negroes. This represents 
about the same proportion of whites as in 1930, but a considerably higher 
proportion of native whites. 

Growth of Population by Regions. From 1920 to 1930, as in previous 
periods, population increase varied greatly between the different states. 
(Figure 5.) California and Florida grew considerably faster than other 
states, the 1920-1930 increase being 66 percent in California and 52 per- 
cent in Florida. At the other extreme, Montana lost in population during 
the decade and Georgia was practically stationary. 

Of the nine states which gained over 20 percent in population between 
1920 and 1930, two were states where climate was an outstanding causal 
factor (California and Florida) and two were states where it was impor- 
tant (Arizona and Oregon) ; four were states which had a large industrial 
or commercial development (Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina 
and New York); and the remaining one was Texas where there was a 
marked expansion of cotton farming in former ranch country and a rapid 
development in the oil industry. The eighteen states in which the rate of 
growth was less than 10 percent were Delaware, three New England 
states (Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont), and fourteen states in 
which agriculture was the important occupation (Virginia, South Caro- 
lina, Georgia, Kentucky, Arkansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, North 
Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Montana and Idaho). 
Delaware was the only semi-industrial state outside of New England 
which failed to increase by as much as 10 percent. 

The slow upward trend of population in most agricultural states since 
1920 is quite different from the rapid growth which occurred in many 
of them from 1900 to 1920. In the earlier period land settlement was 

[ 6 1 




2 8 8 S 
2 2 8 ( 2 




perhaps the most important cause of a high rate of increase, North 
Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, the mountain and the Pacific 
states all gaining at a very rapid rate. In the rest of the country, only 
Florida with its warm winters, Michigan with its growing automobile 
industry, New Jersey and Connecticut with their New York City overflow 
and West Virginia with its coal mining, gained with anything like the 
same rapidity as the newer agricultural states. On the other hand, older 
agricultural states and those lacking a rapid industrial development 
have had little increase since 1900. In this group are Maine, New Hamp- 
shire, Vermont, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, Delaware, 
Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee. 




FIG. 6. Population of the United States, urban and rural, 1900-1930. 

Rural and Urban Growth. 6 Not only has the increase of population 
been concentrated in a few states during recent years but it has also been 
concentrated largely in the urban centers of these states rather than in 
their rural areas. The urban population was larger by more than 14,600,- 
000 in 1930 than in 1920, as Figure 6 indicates, while the rural non-farm 
population was larger by only 3,600,000 and the rural-farm population 
was smaller by at least 1,200,000. 7 A similar differential existed from 
1910 to 1920 but additions to the rural population were relatively larger 
before 1910. The farm population was not enumerated separately before 
1920 but it probably was larger in 1910 than now, since the entire rural 
population increased only a little over 4,000,000 from 1910 to 1930, 

6 Urban includes all incorporated places of 2,500 and over and certain unincorporated 
"towns" in New England and New Jersey. See also Chap. IX. 

7 These comparisons are based on census figures and are only approximate. The census 
definition of farm population was more inclusive theoretically in 1920 than in 1930, which 
would exaggerate the decline in farm population. The change in date of enumeration from 
January 1 in 1920 to April 1 in 1930 would have a contrary effect. 

[ 8 ] 


whereas the rural non-farm group alone increased about 3,600,000 from 
1920 to 1930. As a result of this large urban concentration, the rural 
population made up less than 44 percent of the total population in 1930 
compared with 60 percent in 1900. 

That the farm population decreased from 1920 to 1930 while the urban 
population increased is due primarily to the migration from farm to city. 
Farm birth rates have long been higher than city birth rates and farm 
death rates lower than city death rates, making the rate of natural 
increase of population correspondingly larger. But the net movement of 
persons from farms to cities was larger than the excess of births over 
deaths from 1920 to 1930; hence the farm population decreased in spite 
of its high birth rates and low death rates. 

The chief reason for the large migration from farm to city during the 
last decade was the improvement of farm implements and practices. 8 
This brought about technological unemployment on farms analogous 
to that in the cities. The resulting maladjustment of the labor force has 
been more difficult to overcome on the farms. In the first place, it is 
easier to increase the per capita consumption of factory products than to 
increase the consumption of the foods which make up the bulk of farm 
products. Relatively more of the technologically unemployed can be 
given work in the former case when production increases. Secondly, 
the workers released by one city industry frequently find employment in a 
new and rapidly growing industry (radio being an excellent example), 
a process which has almost no counterpart on farms. 

With little opportunity for an increased demand for farm products 
to result in agricultural expansion, or for alternative occupations in the 
country to absorb labor, most of the farm workers set free by improved 
machinery and technique migrated to the city. If this trend of the years 
preceding 1930 continues, machinery may in the future exert an even 
greater pressure in forcing workers off farms. A satisfactory cotton 
picker is said to be ready for the market and the corn husker is being 
further perfected. Moreover, any considerable increase in farm profits 
is certain to result in the more general use of tractors, small combines, 
and the new and more efficient tillage implements already on the market. 

During 1930 and 1931, however, the trend has been changing. The 
number of persons leaving farms in 1930 was the smallest in several 
years and the number moving to farms by far the largest. The result was 
that the farm population not only kept all of its excess of births over 
deaths (amounting to 399,000) but also gained 39,000 from the farm-city 
interchange, making the total increase in farm population 438,000. This 
situation was further accentuated in 1931, the excess of births over deaths 
being 441,000 and the excess of arrivals on farms over .departures for 

s See Chaps. II and X. 

[ 9 ] 


cities rising rapidly to 207,000, making the increase in farm population 

The explanation of the changing trend no doubt is the difficulty of 
finding employment in cities during 1930 and 1931, and the fact that in 
cities food must be bought at the store, while in the country it is possible 
to raise much of the family produce. Usually those going to the country 
accept a lower standard of living than they previously enjoyed in the 
city, partly because prices of the products which farmers sell have been 
depressed more than the prices of most other classes of products and 
partly because so many of the migrants are moving to submarginal land. 
Nevertheless, the farm has been and still is the proverbial place for having 
enough to eat in hard times. If prosperity again permits a resumption of 
the movement of the surplus farm population to city jobs, the present 
urban exodus may do little permanent harm. But should this not occur, 
there is danger of developing a large peasant population on the millions 
of acres of land which are submarginal for business farming, but which 
will permit self-sustaining farming on a low standard of living. 

Rural-farm Population by States. Increases in the rural-farm 
population during the last decade occurred in sixteen states, according 
to the 1930 census. The numerical gains were fairly large in eight states 
(North Carolina, Mississippi, California, Texas, Louisiana, South Dakota, 
Washington and Colorado) but small in the other eight. In North Carolina 
and California the increase in rural-farm population was more apparent 
than real, since persons not actually employed in agriculture have sought 
homes in the country and holding a plot of a few acres they reported it 
as a "farm." In South Dakota, Texas and the western states, there was 
some of this development, no doubt, but in addition there was a real 
growth of rural-farm population due to the expansion of the farming 
area into regions previously idle or devoted to ranching. This expansion 
arose largely from improvements in farming methods and the introduc- 
tion of newer types of implements especially applicable to large scale, 
dry land farming, which increased human efficiency and lowered pro- 
duction costs. In parts of Texas the movement of cotton farming, with 
its higher labor requirements per acre, into former grain or grazing areas, 
was also responsible for considerable growth. 

Although the rural-farm population increased in sixteen states, it 
declined in thirty-two, 9 these being well distributed outside of the west 
and southwest. Declines of more than 50,000 occurred in New York, 
Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Virginia, 
South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee. Excepting Miss- 

9 These include Massachusetts and Rhode Island, in which increases of rural-farm 
population from 1920 to 1930 shown by the census were due to the change in the basis of 
rural-urban classification, described in vol. I, p. 7 of the 1930 census of population. 

[ 10 ] 


ouri, these are all states in the older agricultural region of the country east 
of the Mississippi River. Part of this region does not have the level land 
and large fields found in states to the west, while the more favored areas 
have lagged in the use of labor saving farm machinery. In these states 
not sufficiently level for the latest machinery, competition from the more 
efficient areas elsewhere is forcing out of use thousands of acres of land 
and is causing the consolidation into larger farms of the land in level 
regions adapted to such machinery. In both cases the result has been a 
decrease in the number of farms and in the farm population. The New 
England, middle Atlantic and east north central states were especially 
affected from 1920 to 1930, the number of farms decreasing 13.0 percent 
and the rural-farm population decreasing 9.2 percent. 10 In the south 
Atlantic and east south central states, the decrease of 5.3 percent in the 
rural-farm population was slightly larger than that of 4.1 percent in the 
number of farms. It is in this section that the greatest increase in human 
efficiency, resulting in an increased size of the farms and a large decrease 
in rural-farm population, may occur in the near future if the mechanical 
cotton picker comes up to expectations. It will have a similar effect on 
cotton farming to that which the binder and combine harvester had 
on wheat farming. 

The increase of 2,400,000 in the rural population compared with 
a gain of over 14,600,000 in the urban population, has interesting political 
implications. Considering only the population eligible to vote, there 
were 100 persons in rural areas to 86 in urban areas in 1910, 100 to 114 
in 1920 and 100 to 142 in 1930. Even this marked change in the relative 
voting strength of cities and rural areas understates the situation. The 
rural population now contains some millions of non-farm people whose 
interests and outlook are distinctly urban and it probably will contain 
a larger proportion of such persons in the future. Thus the cities are 
likely to exercise an increasing political influence. 11 

Urban Growth by Size of City. Considering the urban population, 
there are interesting differences in the trends of cities of various sizes. 
With 14,600,000 more dwellers in all urban places in 1930 than in 1920 
cities over a million had nearly 5,000,000 more inhabitants; while cities 
of the half- to one-million class had nearly 500,000 fewer inhabitants. 
Both of these changes are confused by the passing of Los Angeles and 
Detroit into the larger group, but the two groups together contained 
about 4,500,000 more persons in 1930 than in 1920. The next largest 
change occurred in cities of the quarter- to half-million class, which had 
nearly 3,500,000 more dwellers in 1930; but much of this was due to the 

10 In calculating this percentage, the total farm population for Massachusetts and 
Rhode Island was used because of changes in rural-urban classification mentioned 

11 See Chap. XXIX. 


fact that there were twenty-four cities in this class in 1930 compared 
with thirteen in 1920. These three groups of cities taken together account 
for 8,000,000 of the 14,600,000 additional urban people, the remainder 
being distributed fairly evenly among smaller cities, an exception being 
that places of 2,500 to 5,000 showed little change on the whole. 

The concentration of population in large cities was thus considerably 
greater in 1930 than it was earlier. (Figure 7.) In the thirty years from 
1900 to 1930 the proportion of persons living in cities over 500,000 rose 
by almost three-fifths, from 10.7 percent to 17.0 percent. The proportion 
in cities of 100,000 to 500,000 rose by about one-half, from 8.1 percent 
to 12.6 percent; while in cities of 10,000 to 100,000 the rise was about 
two-fifths, from 13.0 percent to 17.9 percent. The proportion in cities 
of less than 10,000 changed only from 8.3 percent to 8.6 percent, while 





1 1 00.000- 





40 60 


FIG. 7. Percentage distribution by size of city of total population, 1900-1930. 

that in rural areas decreased from 60.0 percent to 43.8 percent, as men- 
tioned earlier. 

Although the 1930 census shows a greater concentration of popula- 
tion in large cities than any preceding census, the rate of population 
growth during the decade was higher in the smaller than in the larger 
cities. This may be seen by considering what happened to cities in 
certain size groups as of 1920, not allowing for changes from one group 
to another as was done in the preceding discussion on the concentration 
of population. Defining growth in these stricter terms, the higher rates 
of growth since 1920 are found in groups of cities with less than 50,000 
persons, as is shown in Figure 8. Not one of these groups increased less 
than 24 percent; while among the larger cities only one group gained 
as much as this. 

Although the growth of small cities since 1920 was, as a group, more 
rapid than that of larger cities, it was also more spotty. No city over 
250,000 failed to gain in population during the decade, whereas over 
one-tenth of those between 10,000 and 250,000 and over one-fifth of 

[ 12 ] 


those smaller than 10,000 lost in population. (Figure 8.) Furthermore, 
among cities gaining in population, there was a greater variation in the 
rate of gain for the smaller cities than for the larger. An important part 
of this variation is explainable on the basis of location. Most of the 
smaller cities having an unusually rapid rate of growth were within a 
comparatively short distance of large cities and may properly be called 
satellites. 12 Probably the development of automobiles, buses, good 
roads and high tension electrical transmission lines which has taken place 
in recent years has diverted much of the growth in population, which 





I 2 

Percentage Increase 
Per Cent of Cities Declining 





100.000- 250.000- 500.000- 
249.999 499.999 999.999 


FIG. 8. Population increase by size of city, 1920-1930. 

would otherwise have accrued to the large central city, to nearby smaller 
places, giving them large relative increases. 

Taken as a group, the satellite cities of 2,500 to 100,000 in 1920 
increased 40.2 percent in the decade, while other cities of similar size 
increased 20.8 percent, or about half as much. Subdividing the satellite 
and non-satellite cities the rate of increase of satellite cities is over 
87 percent for the 2,500 to 5,000 group, each larger group having a 
smaller rate down to 16.9 percent for the cities of 50,000 to 100,000. 
(Figure 9.) The situation was reversed for the non-satellite cities, the 

12 Satellite cities are here defined as those within the metropolitan district of central 
cities over 200,000, and the adjacent territory (as defined by the census) of cities of 100,- 
000 to 200,000. For fuller discussion, see Chap. IX. 

[ 13 ] 


smallest rate of increase being 17 percent in the 5,000 to 10,000 group 
(the rate for the 2,500 to 5,000 group being 17.9 percent nearly as low) 
and the largest rate being 25.2 percent for cities of 50,000 to 100,000. 
Just as the increase in the population of satellite cities was much more 
rapid than that of non-satellite cities, so the population increase of 
communities which were rural in 1920 was much greater in the regions 
adjacent to large cities than it was in outlying areas. The satellite rural 
areas of 1920 had a population growth of 1,485,070, or 57 percent during 
the decade, compared with 2,958,835, or 6 percent for all other rural 
regions. Most of this latter increase also took place near cities, though in 



$%Z\ Within Metropolitan Districts 




outside of Metropolitan Districts 



















2.500- 5,000- 10,000- I5.OOO- 25.OOO- 5O.OOO- METROPOLITAN CENTRAL ADJACENT 
4.999** 9,999' 14,999' 24.999 01 49.999 01 99,999 CT DlSTRICTSD CITIES C TERRITORY 

FIG. 9. Rate of increase of metropolitan districts (central cities and adjacent territory) and 
of other cities within and outside of metropolitan districts by size groups, 1920-1930. 
Each city is classified in 1920 and 1930 according to its'population in 1920. 
* The 1920 area is used in both 1920 and 1930. 
e As used in the 1920 Census, vol. I, p. 62-63. 

a few regions there was some growth of rural population which was not 
due to urban attraction. In parts of the southwest there was a sufficient 
expansion or intensification of agriculture to stimulate the growth of 
villages or small towns; while the opening of mines had the same effect 
in parts of West Virginia and Kentucky. 

The basic reason for the very uneven rates of growth of population 
in small cities seems to lie in changing economic and social functions. 
Those supported in large part by agriculture are increasing little if 
any, except where agriculture is still developing rapidly. Others fortu- 
nate in location or climate (as in the case of Florida and California) or 
favored in securing new industries owing to inherent advantages in 


access to labor, raw materials, power and markets (as in the Piedmont 
of North Carolina) are growing rapidly. But as just indicated, the most 
rapid growth of small cities took place within the zones of influence 
of the larger centers where the economic and social life is closely inte- 
grated with that of the larger community. 

How the growth of satellite areas compares with that of the central 
cities is also shown in Figure 9. All but the largest satellites increased 
more rapidly than the central cities. In this sense, then, it may be said 
that there is a tendency toward decentralization within the metropolitan 
areas, even though central cities contain an increasing proportion of the 
total population. 

Considering central cities of different sizes, population growth is 
found to be about the same in those of 100,000 to 250,000 as in adjacent 
territory, but much larger in territory adjacent to cities over 250,000 
than in the central cities themselves. This is natural, as the centrifugal 
movement of population from a large city is greater than that from a 
small city. 

Places of Most Rapid Growth. Although the foregoing analysis of 
the distribution of the growth of population shows the large differences 
between certain states and size groups of cities, it does not give a wholly 
adequate picture of the concentration of growth from 1920 to 1930. It is 
important to emphasize the fact that almost three-fifths of the total 
population increase occurred in five well defined groups of cities which 
had but 26.2 percent of the nation's population in 1920. These five 
groups may be described rather roughly as follows: Group I. The 
metropolitan districts of the middle Atlantic seaboard from New York 
City to Baltimore by way of Philadelphia; Group II. The metropolitan 
districts of the Great Lakes region from Buffalo to Milwaukee. This 
includes the Akron, Canton and Youngstown metropolitan districts in 
Ohio, the Flint district in Michigan, and the Fort Wayne and South Bend 
districts in Indiana, as well as those directly on the lakes; Group III. 
The metropolitan districts in Tennessee, Florida, Alabama and northern 
Georgia, together with the cities of 25,000 to 100,000 in North Carolina 
and Florida; Group IV. The metropolitan districts from Kansas City 
to Houston, and cities in Texas of 25,000 to 100,000; Group F. The 
metropolitan districts in the Pacific coast states, except Spokane. 

The cities in these five groups increased 36.1 percent between 1920 
and 1930 compared with a 9.0 percent increase for the remainder of the 
United States and 16.9 percent for the metropolitan districts not included 
in these five groups. 13 They added a total of 10,010,063 to their popula- 

13 It should be noted that in several cases the 1920 populations in the metropolitan 
districts outside of the central cities had to be estimated. But it seems certain that this 
has not appreciably affected the results. 

[ 15 ] 


tions, which is 58.6 percent of the increase of population in the entire 
United States during the decade. Furthermore, over three-fifths of the 
increase in these five groups of cities is found in the first two which are 
composed entirely of metropolitan districts and which now have about 
27,500,000 people concentrated in 11,962 square miles. 

Since it is not possible to go into detail here regarding the causes of 
this increasing concentration of population within these groups, only one 
or two of the more important factors in each region will be mentioned. 
In Group I the coast location and a growing seaborne commerce are of 
substantial importance. If to these is added the centripetal pull which 
New York City (its metropolitan district alone accounts for about four- 
fifths of the total increase in this group) is exercising upon all large scale 
national and international business organizations, the most potent of the 
factors making for growth in the region are accounted for. Its future 
growth, therefore, would seem to be tied up very closely with the develop- 
ment of foreign commerce and with the trend in the organization of 

In Group II the relatively cheap transportation afforded by the 
lakes, together with the location of iron and coal deposits, are probably 
of prime importance. It should also be noted that the central location 
of these cities favors the relatively cheap and expeditious delivery of 
the finished products of heavy industry to a very large part of the total 
population. Future growth here would seem to be bound up more closely 
with the increased use of iron and steel products than any other single 

In Group III the combination of cheap power, cheap labor and near- 
ness to certain natural resources is resulting in increased industry. 14 
Although these metropolitan districts and many of the smaller cities, 
particularly those of the Piedmont, are growing very rapidly, only a 
beginning has been made as yet; hence this group has absorbed a small 
part of the total national growth (5.1 percent). In Florida, climate is 
undoubtedly the most important factor. 

In Group IV manufacturing plays but a small role. The cities are 
largely commercial centers having only a small proportion of their 
populations engaged in manufacturing. The expansion of the markets 
they serve is, therefore, the chief factor in their growth. Two important 
factors in this expansion are the development of the cotton area in 
western Texas and Oklahoma and the increased oil production in these 
states. In the future it appears unlikely that these cities will continue 
to grow at the recent rapid rate. Cotton and oil are already overproduced. 
There is no reason to anticipate the rapid development of factory indus- 
tries such as textiles, since they are already overbuilt elsewhere. 

14 See Chap. V. 

[ 16] 


In Group V the factor of greatest importance is that much of this 
region has a comfortable climate which favors the citrus fruit, winter 
vegetable and motion picture industries. The growing trade with the 
Far East has no doubt played a part, as have also the distance from the 
industrial centers of the east and the discovery of large oil fields. However, 
the predominating influence of climate seems to be shown by the popula- 
tion growth of 120 percent in southern California from 1920 to 1930 as 
compared with 29 percent in central California (San Francisco and Oak- 
land) and the northern Pacific port districts (Portland and Seattle). The 
future growth of population in this area would seem to depend in large 
measure upon the extent to which the lure of climate can be made effective 
through greater agricultural and industrial opportunities, through the 
development of a leisure or semi-leisure class and the growth of touring. 
In this connection it may be of interest to call attention to the fact that 
the absolute increase in population in these five groups of cities during 
1920-1930 was just about the same as the total estimated increase in 
numbers in the United States during 1930-1940. (See page 2.) 


Foreign White Stock. Foreign white stock, which consists of 
immigrants and natives of foreign or mixed parentage, increased less 
rapidly than the total population during the last decade and now com- 
poses barely one-third of all whites. An exact idea of the importance of 
the different European nationalities can be obtained for this group, as 
the census classified them by the country of birth of the father, or of the 
mother in case of a native father. In 1930 the largest group among the 
foreign stock consisted of immigrants from Germany and their children 
born in this country. (Figure 10.) Italy held second place; England, 
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland together were third; followed by 
Poland, Canada, the Irish Free State, Russia, Sweden, Czechoslovakia, 
Norway, Austria and Hungary in the order named. 15 

Foreign white stock from Germany has outnumbered that from other 
countries for several decades. It has declined in numbers since 1910, 
however, and now constitutes only a little more than one-half as much 
of all foreign stock as thirty years ago. This decline has been greater among 
the German born than among native children of German immigrants, 
because German immigration has not been heavy since the 1880's. 
Now the natives of German parentage outnumber the German born 
by a considerable margin. Stock from what is now the Irish Free State 
has been declining in numbers since 1900, ranking sixth in 1930 com- 
pared with second in 1900, even if it is assumed that as many as one- 

16 For other data and aspects of foreign white stocks see Chap. XI. 

[ 17] 


fourth of the "Irish" of 1900 came from Northern Ireland. Since the 
heavy immigration from Ireland, like that from Germany, took place 
many years ago, the Irish born are now outnumbered over three to 
one by the natives of Irish parents. 


FIG. 10. Foreign white stock from leading countries, 1920-1930. 
Proportion of Irish from Northern Ireland and Irish Free State estimated for 1920. 

The number of persons of foreign stock from England, Scotland, 
Wales, Northern Ireland and Canada, which was almost stationary from 
1900 to 1920, increased considerably from 1920 to 1930. (Figure 10.) 
This is the natural consequence of the facts that since the war the quota 
system has favored British immigration and that immigration from 
Canada has not been restricted at all. Under these conditions, the propor- 
tion of foreign born to natives of foreign or mixed parentage in these 

f 18 1 


nationalities rose appreciably during this decade, although the natives 
are still numerically superior. Since about two-thirds of the Canadians 
in the United States are of British descent, the total foreign stock of 
British origin is almost equal to that of German origin. 

From about 1900 to the outbreak of the World War, immigration 
was particularly large from Italy, Russia and Austria-Hungary. Italian 
stock increased from 727,844 in 1900 to 3,336,941 in 1920, and stocks of 
Russian and Austro-Hungarian origin from 2,069,865 to 8,408,088 with 
foreign born predominating. This "new" immigration was stopped almost 
completely by the World War and has since been severely restricted 
by the quota system. As a result, the rate of increase in "new" stocks 
from 1920 to 1930 16 was less than one-half that of 1910-1920 and one- 
sixth that of 1900-1910. Furthermore, a decline in numbers will soon 
begin since the quotas for these countries are small and the second 
generation born in the United States is classed as native stock. 

White Population. Native whites of native parentage have been 
increasing considerably faster than the total population and now out- 
number all other persons by nearly three to two and other whites by 
two to one. They consist chiefly of descendants of immigrants from 
Great Britain, Ireland, Germany and the Scandinavian countries who 
came to the United States before 1870. The exact importance of the 
national stock from each of these countries can only be estimated, how- 
ever, and the difficulty becomes greater as the number of generations 
increases between the original immigrants and their present descendants. 
The number of immigrants from each country has been recorded since 
1820, but the number of children per family has varied, intermarriage 
has mixed the strains and the number of immigrants returning to their 
homes prior to 1907 is not known. Census enumerations show the coun- 
try of birth of the parents of each person but not of the grandparents, 
so that there is no direct way of telling what national stock is represented 
in the second and later generations of native born. 

Notwithstanding the difficulty of determining national origin, the 
Immigration Act of 1924 provided that "the annual quota of any nation- 
ality for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 1927, and for each fiscal year 
thereafter, shall be a number which bears the same ratio to 150,000 as 
the number of inhabitants in continental United States in 1920 having 
that national origin bears ... to the number of inhabitants in con- 
tinental United States in 1920, but the minimum quota of any nation- 
ality shall be 100." This made it necessary to estimate the national 
origins of the 1920 population, a task that was conducted under the 

16 Foreign stock of Italy, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia, 
Russia, Latvia, Esthonia, Lithuania and Finland in 1930 is compared with that of Russia, 
Finland, Italy and Austria-Hungary in 1920 and earlier. 

f 19 1 


supervision of Joseph A. Hill 17 of the Bureau of the Census. The results 
indicate that over 41 percent of the 1920 white population was of British 
and North Irish origin, over 16 percent of German origin, and over 11 
percent of Irish Free State origin. (Figure 11.) Canada, Poland, Italy, 
Sweden, Netherlands, France, Czechoslovakia, Russia, Norway, Mexico 
and Switzerland follow in the order named. This includes all countries 
which were the place of origin of as much as 1 percent of the 1920 white 












FIG. 11. White population by country of origin, 1920. 

Mexicans are included with whites in accordance with the classification of the 1990 census. Their number 
here appears large in comparison with the estimated number of persons of the Mexican race in 1920 published 
in the 1930 census since this latter estimate does not include such persons born in the United States of native 
born parents of whom there were large numbers in the southwest. 

population (all Mexicans being counted as white in that census) and 
accounts for the origin of 95 percent of the total. 

There is probably no appreciable change in the national origins of 
the population since 1920 in spite of higher birth rates among the "new" 
immigrants and unrestricted immigration from Canada and Mexico 
up to the middle of 1930. Changes during coming years will depend to a 
large extent on population policies. If immigration is severely restricted, 
as in 1931, the origin of the white population will vary from 1920 only 

17 Message from the President of the United States to Congress transmitting a com- 
munication relative to the provisions of the Immigration Act of 1924. (70th Congress, 2d 
Session, Senate Document no. 259.) 

r 20 1 


as differential rates of increase exist between national stocks. But if 
the allotted number of quota immigrants, 153,714 a year under the 
present law, and an equal number from non-quota countries (chiefly 
Canada) are allowed to enter the United States and remain here, the 
proportion of the population of northern and western European ancestry 
probably will increase slowly. 

An interesting implication of the decline in the proportion of foreign 
born whites is the decrease in their influence in the field of politics. In 
spite of an increase in the proportion of foreign born whites over 21 who 
are naturalized, from 51.7 percent in 1910 and 52.8 percent in 1920 to 
62.6 in 1930, the proportion which they constituted of all persons eligible 
to vote declined from 14.5 percent in 1910 to 12.0 percent in 1920 and 
11.6 percent in 1930. Obviously national blocks of foreign voters cannot 
continue much longer to play an important part in politics. 


Foreign Born Whites. As long as fertile land could be easily secured 
during the nineteenth century many immigrants settled on farms. 
During this period the movement from Germany and the Scandinavian 
countries was large, which explains why much of the foreign stock from 
these countries is still found in farming areas. Industrial and commer- 
cial development has been of increasing importance in recent years. 
The resulting demand for labor caused the new immigration from Italy 
and eastern Europe to settle chiefly in the cities. Regardless of whether 
they were attracted to this country by agricultural or industrial oppor- 
tunities, most of the white immigrants since colonial days have settled 
in the north and west rather than in the south. While there are several 
reasons for this, perhaps the most important has been the presence of 
the Negro in the south. The population of the south has thus been made 
up since early days chiefly of native whites of native parentage and of 
Negroes and that of the north and west of native whites of native 
parentage and foreign stock. 

In 1930 the foreign born whites were concentrated in Massachusetts, 
Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, making up 
over 20 percent of the population in the New England and the middle 
Atlantic states as against 10.9 percent for the entire United States. 18 
(Figure 12.) This concentration has been going on for several decades 
and these five states contain 42.2 percent of the foreign born whites 
in 1930 compared with 34.6 percent in 1900. On the other hand, the west 
north central states contained only 7.9 percent of all foreign born whites 
in 1930 instead of 15.0 percent as in 1900. This nativity group is almost 

18 Using the 1930 census classification for 1930 and 1920, which excludes most Mexicans 
from white groups. For figures, see Chap. XI. 

[21 ] 







3 25 50 

75 IOC 













FIG. 12. Percentage distribution of the population of certain sections, by race, nativity, 

and parentage, 1920-1930. 





1 1 0,000 - 


I 50O.OOO 



FIG. 13. Percentage distribution by size of city of native whites of native parentage, 
native whites of foreign or mixed parentage, foreign born whites and Negroes, 1920-1930. 



negligible in the southern states, making up less than 2 percent of the 

Not only was the concentration of the foreign born in the northeast 
increasing during the decade, but it was centering in large cities to a 
greater extent than formerly. In 1920, 33.9 percent of the foreign born 
lived in cities over 500,000 compared with 15.5 percent of the total 
population, but in 1930 such cities contained 38.9 percent of the foreign 
born against 17.0 percent of the total. (Figure 13.) This concentration 
in large cities was particularly marked in the middle Atlantic states. 
The smaller cities of the country had about the same proportion of the 
foreign born in 1930 as in 1920, but the proportion declined in rural 
communities from 24.5 percent to 19.7 percent, most of the decrease 
occurring in the middle Atlantic, north central and mountain states. 

In spite of this increased concentration of foreign born whites in 
the large cities of certain areas, the group even here constitutes a smaller 
proportion of the total population in 1930 than in 1920. Indeed, immigra- 
tion has been so curtailed during recent years that there were fewer 
foreign born whites in 1930 than in 1920 in most states. Only in New 
York, New Jersey, Michigan and California were there numerical 
increases of any importance; and even in these states the increases were 
much less than for other groups. In the remainder of the country, the 
foreign born whites are passing into the older groups where the death 
rate is high and the losses in numbers are large. 

Native Whites of Foreign or Mixed Parentage. In 1930 this group 
was concentrated in the same general area as the foreign born whites, 
but not to the same extent. Although constituting 20.7 percent of the 
population of the United States, it was more than 30 percent of the 
population in the northeastern states and between 20 and 30 percent 
in the north central and western states. (Figure 12.) Since 1900 the 
trend has been toward greater concentration in the northeastern and 
Pacific states at the expense of the north central states. 

This group is also concentrating in large cities, chiefly at the expense 
of rural communities, though to a lesser extent than the foreign born. 
Cities of more than 500,000 contained 29.5 percent of the group in 1930 
against 27.1 percent in 1920, while the proportion in rural communities 
declined from 30.8 percent to 26.6 percent. (Figure 13.) As with the 
foreign born, the concentration in large cities occurred chiefly in the 
middle Atlantic states, and the rural losses took place in the middle 
Atlantic and north central states. 

In these areas of increased concentration of native whites of foreign 
or mixed parentage, this group made up a larger proportion of the total 
population in 1930 than in 1920. In other areas they declined in relative 
importance, the net result for the nation as a whole being almost no 

[ 23 1 


change. Continuation of the present immigration restrictions will check 
the growth of this group and within a decade or two it will begin to 
decline in numbers. 

National Groups. The geographic distribution of the foreign stocks 19 
varies greatly. British stock is spread more widely than that of any 
other country, one-third being in the middle Atlantic, one-fourth in 
the east north central, one-seventh in New England, and one-tenth in 

[British Stock.* 31 

Italian Stock. 

gx^ Polish Stock. 










FIG. 14. Percentage distribution by divisions of British, German, Italian and Polish 

stock in the United States, 1930. 
Includes English, Scotch, Welsh and North Irish. 

the Pacific states. (Figure 14.) About two-thirds is in urban communi- 
ties. About five-sixths of the Irish stock is concentrated in the urban 
areas of the middle Atlantic and New England states, chiefly in the 
larger cities. Scandinavian immigrants were less attracted to the north- 
east than any other group, preferring the good land available in the 
north central states. This stock still centers in this area, about one-half 
of it in rural communities. The native born portion, however, shows a 

19 Foreign stock consists of foreign born and native born of foreign or mixed parentage. 

[ 24 ] 


tendency to move to the larger cities. German stock, like the British, 
is fairly widely distributed, though concentrated somewhat in the east 
north central states. About two-thirds is in cities. 

Foreign stock from the eastern and southern European countries, 
which furnished most of the immigrants from 1900 to the World War, 
is heavily concentrated in the middle Atlantic states. Over half of the 
Italian, Austrian and Russian stock is in this area; and nearly half of 
the Polish and Hungarian; the remainder is mostly in the east north 
central states. (Figure 14.) These stocks are especially concentrated 
in large cities, over five-sixths of the Italian and Russian stock being 
urban and over two-thirds of the other groups. Canadian stock is con- 
centrated in the New England states and Michigan French Canadian 
predominating in New England and other Canadian in Michigan. 
Over three-fourths of the French Canadian stock and about two-thirds 
of the other Canadian is in urban areas. 

Native White Stock. A high proportion of native whites of native 
parentage is found in states which have not received much immigration 
in recent decades or which contain few Negroes. States in which native 
whites of native parentage constitute more than 70 percent of the popu- 
lation are Indiana, Missouri and Kansas in the north; West Virginia, 
Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas and Oklahoma in the south; and Idaho 
and New Mexico in the west. During recent decades the proportion of 
native whites of native parentage in the total population has been 
increasing especially rapidly in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, North 
Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska in the north; South Carolina and 
Georgia in the south; and Utah and Nevada in the west. In the northern 
and western states this trend is due chiefly to the small number of 
immigrants in recent years and the gradual dying off of many persons 
who came during the heavy immigration from Germany and the Scandi- 
navian countries in the nineteenth century. In South Carolina and 
Georgia the immediate cause of the increase in the proportion of native 
whites of native parentage is the large exodus of Negroes. South Carolina 
contained 71,038 fewer Negroes in 1930 than in 1920 and Georgia 135,240 
fewer. At the same time, the native white population increased con- 
siderably, the excess of births over deaths being well above the migra- 
tion to other states. 

With the native white stock concentrated in the agricultural states 
of the north central and southern divisions, it would be expected that 
its distribution by size of community would be quite different from that 
of the foreign stock. The facts are that 6.2 percent of the native white 
stock was in cities over 1,000,000 in 1930 compared with 24.8 percent 
for the foreign white stock, while 52.2 percent was in rural communities 
compared with 24.2 percent for the foreign stock. The proportion of the 

[ 25 1 


native white stock in rural communities, however, showed a somewhat 
greater decline during the decade than the foreign white stock. 

Although native white stock constitutes a smaller proportion of the 
total population in cities over 500,000 than in smaller cities, it gained 
in this group from 29.3 percent in 1920 to 31.6 percent in 1930. Not all 
of this gain was due to migration of old native stock to these cities; for 
grandchildren of immigrants who settled there a few decades ago are 
classified as natives, and they account for an important part of the in- 
crease. If recent trends continue, almost all rural whites, at least half of 
all whites in cities over half a million and three-fourths in smaller 
cities will be of native stock within three or four decades. 

Negroes. It is among Negroes, however, that the greatest shift in 
distribution has occurred in recent years. This is a consequence of the 
large movement off southern farms and plantations which began about 
1914, stimulated first by cheap cotton and the boll weevil, and later 
by a demand for Negro labor in northern cities. The movement of Negroes 
into the northern states tended to counterbalance the decline in immi- 
grant arrivals caused by the war and the post-war quota restrictions. 
(Figures 12 and 13.) This matter is summarized in Chapter XI, as 
is also the distribution of the "other colored." 20 


As the nation has become older, the median age of the population 
has risen from 16.7 years in 1820 to 26.4 years in 1930. This has come 
about because the number of persons in the older groups has increased 
faster than the total population and the number in the younger groups 
has increased more slowly. The 2044 group has increased at about the 
same rate as the total, so the relative importance of this group is much 
the same now as formerly. 

This aging of the population is not a new process but one that has 
gone on for more than a century. What is new is the greater speed in 
recent years and the extent of the changes which have resulted, partic- 
ularly in certain parts of the population. To illustrate, the first decrease 
in the number of persons in an important age group occurred during the 
decade 1920-1930. According to the census enumeration, there were 
11,573,230 children under 5 years of age in 1920 but only 11,444,390 in 
1930. The decline of 128,840 almost equals the number of children under 
5 in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle, or in the entire state of 
Connecticut. Furthermore, at no census prior to 1930 was the population 
in any five-year age group smaller than that in an older five-year group. 
But in 1930 there were slightly fewer children in the group under five 

20 The various elements of the population and their distribution since 1790 are treated 
in detail in the monograph, Population Trends in the United States. 

( 26 ] 







963 O 3 6 









FIG. 15. Distribution by five year age periods of the total population, native whites, 
foreign born whites and Negroes, 1920-1930. 


years of age than in the five to nine year group, even after allowing for 
the under-enumeration that usually occurs in the former group. 

While the population under 5 decreased from 1920 to 1930, the in- 
crease in the number of elders was larger than for many decades. Persons 
45-64 increased over one-fourth and those 65-74 over one-third. It might 
almost be said that the older the group, the more rapid the gain in 

This decrease of youngsters and large increase of elders had a marked 
effect on the age composition of the population. (Figure 15.) The white 
pyramid for the 1920 population is broadest at the base and tapers rather 
rapidly to the peak. But the pyramid for the 1930 population (outlined in 
black) is narrower at the base than higher and tapers more slowly. The 
1930 pyramid, much more than the 1920 pyramid, is like the beehive shape 
which represents the age distribution of a population stationary in numbers. 
Moreover, the narrowed base for 1930 is a step toward the Egyptian 
mummy case shape which represents a population declining in numbers. 

Age Trends of Race and Nativity Groups. The age trend from 1920 
to 1930 for each race and nativity group of the population differed in 
various ways from that for the total population just described. The 
decline in the number of children under 5 was larger in the native white 
group than in the total population while Negroes and "other colored" 
under 5 increased in numbers. Furthermore, the increase in the older 
groups was higher among native whites than Negroes. The result is that 
the age pyramid of native whites in Figure 15 is narrowed at the base 
and broadened at the top to a greater degree than the pyramid of the 
total population. This means that the aging of the native white popula- 
tion and increase in the ratio of elders to youths (persons under 20) 
was correspondingly more rapid. On the other hand, the age pyramid 
for Negroes in Figure 15 has about the same shape in 1930 as in 1920, 
showing that the Negro population is aging but little and the proportion 
of elders to youths is almost unchanged. 

The age distribution of the foreign born whites is quite different 
from that of the native whites and the Negroes. (Figure 15.) Here there 
is no pyramid but something like a spinning top. Age trends from 1920 
to 1930 were quite different from those for the groups just mentioned, 
for the number of foreign born whites decreased not only in the age period 
0-4, but also in each period up to and including 35-39. As the total 
number of foreign born whites was almost unchanged from 1920 to 1930, 
this decrease in numbers under 40 resulted in a much greater concentra- 
tion in older age periods than occurred among native whites or Negroes. 
The aging of the foreign born white population was thus more rapid 
than that of the other groups and the increase in the ratio of elders to 
youths was correspondingly larger. 

[ 28 1 


Causes of Age Trends. A brief consideration of the causes of these 
age trends will indicate whether they are likely to be temporary or to 
continue. Among native whites, the smaller number of children under 
5 years of age in 1930 than in 1920 was due to a smaller number of births 
from 1925 to 1929 than from 1915 to 1919. In section V on birth rate 
trends, it will be shown why the number of births during 1935-1939 
is not likely to be much, if any, larger than during 1925-1929. In 1940, 
therefore, the proportion of native whites under 5 will be lower than in 
1930; indeed there may be a decrease in the number. The marked increase 
in the number of native white persons 65 or older is largely the result of 
the rapid rise in the number of births that took place from 1830 to 1865. 
The number of births continued to increase with sufficient rapidity from 
1865 to 1900 so that the number of elders will keep on rising at approxi- 
mately the recent high rate for two or three decades more. Native white 
elders will certainly be more numerous in 1940 and 1950 than now; and, 
owing to the declining birth rate in recent decades, they will constitute 
a still larger proportion of the total population. The probable situation in 
1950 21 in comparison with that of 1910 or 1930 is shown in Figure 16. 
The proportion of native whites under 20 is likely to decline over one- 
fifth, with increases of one-tenth at ages 2044, one-fourth at ages 45-64, 
and nearly one-half at older ages. 

The trend for Negroes should be like that for native whites. Section V 
shows that the number of Negro births has been decreasing recently, 
which presages a decline in the number and proportion of children in the 
Negro population. But before 1880 the number of Negro births was 
rising rapidly and the Negro expectation of life probably has lengthened 
considerably since 1850, so that the recent rise in the number of Negroes 
over 65 will be maintained for at least two decades. The Negro population 
will thus become older, with the ratio of elders to youths rising rapidly. 
Between 1930 and 1950 the proportion of Negroes under 20 is likely to 
decline over one-sixth, with increases of one-fourth at ages 4564 and 
over three-fourths at older ages. The age period 20-44 is not likely to 
change appreciably in relative importance. (Figure 16.) 

The foreign born white group, unlike the native white and Negro 
groups, is maintained by immigration rather than births. At present, 
immigration policy and economic conditions together are holding the 
number of immigrants at a very low level. Since about two-thirds of 
those entering are under 30 years of age, the practical cessation of the 
movement shuts off the supply of young persons and if continued will 
cause them to decrease rapidly in numbers. Only about 10 percent of the 
immigrants are older than 45, so variations in the number entering affects 
older age groups but little. The population in these groups can continue 

21 See pp. 46-49 for basis of 1950 estimates. 

[ 29] 


to show gains in numbers for some time as a result of the large immi- 
gration which occurred in the years before the outbreak of the World 

AGE. O-I9 








f ,''^-\ 950 (Estimated) 


AGE _..O-I9 



AGE. _ O -19 


FIG. 16. Percentage distribution by age periods of native whites, foreign born whites 

and Negroes, 1910, 1930 and 1950. a 
a See pp. 46-49 for basis of 1950 estimates. 

War and of any lengthening in expectation of life at age of immigration 
to the United States. 22 The increase in the proportion in older groups and 

22 There has probably been no significant lengthening of the expectation of life of 
persons 20 years of age or over for some decades, although the expectation of life of newborn 
infants has lengthened considerably. This is discussed in Chap. XII. 

[ 30 1 


decrease in the proportion in younger groups will thus be greater than the 
numerical changes. Estimates of the age composition of foreign born 
whites in 1950 are not likely to be as accurate as those of native whites 
and Negroes, for reasons pointed out in section V. It is probable, however, 
that the proportion 20-44 will be considerably lower in 1950 than in 1930 
with a large increase at ages over 65. (Figure 16.) 

Age Trends in Urban and Rural Communities. In general, cities 
have relatively fewer children and older people but more persons in the 
highly productive ages than rural communities, differences which are 
more pronounced as the size of cities increases. (Figure 17.) Thus 10.8 
percent of the rural population was under 5 years of age in 1930 compared 
with only 7.7 percent in cities over 500,000. For all persons under 20 



45-64 65 + 

500,000 AND OVER 

FIG. 17. Percentage distribution by age of the rural population and of the urban popula- 
tion, by size of city, 1930. 

the percentages are 44.2 and 32.7. At the other extreme, people 65 and 
over comprise 5.8 percent of the population in the rural communities 
but only 4.3 percent in the large cities. The central group, aged 20-64, 
amounted to 50 percent of the rural population against 63.0 percent in 
the large cities. Although it is not a new situation for rural areas to have a 
high proportion of children and elders and for large cities to have a high 
proportion of young to middle-aged adults, the differentials were larger in 
1930 than in 1920. 

Four factors seem in large measure to explain this situation. In the 
first place, there is a difference in the age makeup of the foreign born 
in the cities and in the country. In recent years most of the foreign born 
have gone to cities, especially large cities, thereby increasing the young 
adult group. During earlier decades, however, more immigrants went to 
the farms. The survivors of this group now swell the number of elders in 
the rural population. 

[ 31 ] 


A second factor is the rural-urban migration, which contains a high 
proportion of young adults seeking jobs in the cities. This pulls down the 
numbers in these age groups in the rural population at the same time that 
it adds to them in the urban population. On the other hand, there has been 
some migration of older people, particularly from large cities, to rural 
areas and small towns. In the past elders seem to have found it easier to 
care for themselves in small communities, but there are indications that 
this may not be the case in the future. Apartment houses, restaurants and 
the recreational and cultural opportunities of urban centers may come 
to appeal so strongly to elders that they will tend to concentrate in cities 
rather than in rural areas or small towns. 

A third factor is the birth rate, which is higher in rural than in urban 
areas and higher in small cities than in large cities. Finally the fact that 
the expectation of life is lower in the city than in the country tends to 
raise the proportion of elders in the country above that in cities. 

Differences in the age composition of various states are marked and 
arise to a considerable extent from the relation between size of community 
and age composition just discussed. The west north central, mountain 
and southern states have a much higher proportion of their population 
in rural areas and a much lower proportion in large cities than do the 
other divisions. It is not surprising, therefore, to find that the proportion 
of children is higher in these divisions than in other states. Regional 
differences are not due entirely to the rural-urban influence, for the pro- 
portion of children is lowest in the Pacific states, although the concentra- 
tion in large cities is not as marked there as in the middle Atlantic states. 

As persons 20-44 are relatively most numerous in large cities, they 
are more numerous in states having a greater concentration of popula- 
tion in cities. Thus the more urban New England, middle Atlantic, 
east north central and Pacific states have a higher proportion of persons 
20-44 than do the more rural west north central, mountain and southern 
states. The differences are not large, but they are significant. 

Persons 65 or older constitute a high proportion of the total popula- 
tion in the Pacific states and a low proportion of the total population 
in the southern and mountain states, whereas the relative urban develop- 
ment of these areas would lead one to expect the opposite. Special factors 
are at work in each case. A large migration of elders to the Pacific states 
accounts in part for their being so numerous there. The lower proportion 
of elders in the south is partly due to the presence of Negroes, since 
the expectation of life is considerably shorter for Negroes than for whites. 
In the mountain states the proportion of elders is kept down by the 
comparatively recent date of settlement and the fact that migration to 
these states has not been made up of older persons to the same extent as 
the migration to the Pacific states. The effect of large cities and rural 



areas on the proportion of elders is most apparent in comparing the 
middle Atlantic, east north central and west north central states. To 
summarize the distribution of elders: They constitute the highest pro- 
portion of the population in older, rural states having a low rate of 
increase and the lowest proportion in newer states and in those growing 
rapidly in urban population, California excepted. 

Consequences of Age Trends. The consequences of recent trends in 
age composition are already noticeable and will become more pronounced 
in the future, since they are almost certain to continue. 

Fewer Children. There were fewer children under 5 years of age in 
1930 than in 1920, hence there will be a smaller number to enter the 
first grade during 1930-1935 than during 1920-1925. By 1940 or 1945 
there will be a smaller number for each grade up to senior high school, 
for most of the children who will be in these grades in 1940 were born 
during 1924-1931, just as most children in these grades in 1930 were 
born during 19141921. The number of births in the later period was 
nearly 1,200,000 less than the number in the earlier period (see section 
V), so that there will be about 1,000,000 fewer children aged 9-16 in 
1940 than in 1930, making a liberal allowance for falling death rates. 
The number of youths of senior high school, college and university age 
has not yet reached a maximum, since the number of births was rising 
up to- 1921.* 

Although the slowing up of population growth will decrease the 
number of children of school age, this seems likely to be offset by an 
increase in the proportion attending school. If the highest attendance 
standards prevailing in 1930 in any geographic section had been universal, 
there would have been about 2,300,000 more children 7-16 years of age in 
school. This is about double the decline in the population of this age 
which may be expected during the next decade. 

There are several reasons for believing that attendance standards 
will be raised in this manner. The southern states, which for some time 
have had the lowest rates of attendance, improved rapidly during 1920- 
1930. Another such decade will bring them almost to the level of the 
rest of the country. Secondly, most communities in the United States 
already have the system and the plant to care for some increase in 
younger pupils; hence the additional expense of such an increase will be 
relatively small. Finally, child labor laws and school attendance laws 
are steadily becoming more stringent. It is probable, therefore, that 
within twenty years the highest legal requirements now prevailing in 
any state will become general. 

With regard to probable increases in the proportion of persons 17 
and over attending school, the outlook is quite different. For one thing, 

23 For figures on school attendance, see Chap. VII. 

[ 33 ] 


there is room for a relatively large increase, since only about one-fourth 
of those from 17 to 20 are now attending school. But of far greater signifi- 
cance is the fact that any substantial increase in attendance in this group 
will involve great changes, not only in the educational system, but in 
society as a whole. High schools and colleges are far more expensive 
to maintain than elementary schools; hence a large increase in attendance 
can only be cared for by a largely increased expenditure of public money. 
Furthermore, since many of the students, particularly above high school, 
must live away from home, the family expenditures for attendance mount 
rapidly. But even if the community and the parents could meet these 
costs, there is the more difficult matter of directing this added schooling 
in such a way that the young people will be better fitted to find satis- 
factory work when they leave school than is now the case. What kind 
of jobs are going to be open to two or three times the present number of 
high school and college graduates? Is the present economic structure 
prepared to absorb such an increase of persons with a relatively good 
school training ? Is it true that white collar jobs, for example, are already 
too few for those who feel that their education entitles them to such work ? 
It is not within the province of this chapter to discuss these matters, but 
it is proper to suggest that the trends in the growth of the school popula- 
tion and in school attendance call for careful study if a nice adjustment 
is to be maintained between the educational system on the one hand 
and the general social and economic structure on the other. 

While the foregoing discussion applies to the United States in 
general, it must be remembered that population will increase rapidly 
in some localities, will be nearly stationary in other localities and will 
decrease in still others, with a corresponding influence on the number of 

More Elders. When the social and economic significance of the 
increase of elders is considered, many points of interest emerge. For 
example, the problem of old age pensions was one thing in 1930 with 
5.4 percent of the population 65 or older, but may be a different thing 
in 1950 when the proportion over 65 will be about half again as large. 
Furthermore, employment policies which were practicable and worked 
little harship when only 22.8 percent of the population was over 45, as in 
1930, may not be equally satisfactory when nearly 30 percent is over 45, as 
will be the case in 1950. For some time there has been talk of the discrimi- 
nation in many industries against men over 40 or 45 years of age. As 
this group becomes relatively more numerous, such employment policies 
will work increasing hardship. 

The rising proportion of people over 45 may demand considerable 
revisions in the educational system, particularly if industrial processes 
continue to change as in the past. There would seem to be need for some 

[ 34 ] 


type of adult education which would re-train middle-aged people to work 
efficiently under the new conditions. This would make up for the de- 
creasing number of young persons entering the working period of life. 
As yet, the school system has done comparatively little in this field. 
Additional adult education not strictly vocational may also be demanded 
if there is a general rise in income levels, for a growing proportion of 
adults would then have leisure to devote to matters not directly concerned 
with earning a living. This might mean a great increase in the opportuni- 
ties for study offered to mature people through the public school system. 
The effect on school activities might easily offset the shrinkage in enroll- 
ment arising from the decline in the child population. It seems probable 
that the general economic condition of the country will be the decisive 
factor, both in creating the demand for broader adult education and in 
providing the means for its satisfaction. 

The increase of the aged will certainly result in an increase of the 
dependent aged, unless there is an expansion of employment opportunities 
for older persons, or unless accumulations during the working period 
greatly increase. It should be remembered, however, that the decline in 
the number of children will decrease the group of young dependents. The 
net result should be no change in the total amount of dependency if 
savings and employment opportunities continue as in the past, or else a 
decrease in dependency if older people can remain longer at suitable 
work or can accumulate reserves while younger. 24 

It is interesting to speculate regarding some general consequences 
of the aging of our population. Since more of the voters will be older 
people, will the political parties be more completely under their control 
and hence be more conservative? And will the same tendency toward 
conservatism be reflected in the conduct of business? In the past the 
nation has been noted for the readiness with which its business men have 
adopted new methods and scrapped valuable machines because of 
improvements which offered a chance to cut costs. Many other factors 
have also contributed to the efficiency of industry and commerce but 
there is some reason to think that a part of this progressiveness has been 
due to the youth of the management and control. 

With the slowing up of population growth and the increase in the 
proportion of elders, there may also be a greater concern with the personal 
aspects of cultural life. Youth is more concerned with doing things, 
forging ahead and making a place in the world. Age is apt to be more 
reflective, perhaps because the spur of poverty is less sharp, the inner 
driving force is weaker, or time and thought have brought about a change 
of ideas as to the goal of life. The mere shift in age distribution, therefore, 
may lead to more interest in cultural activities and increased support 

24 For discussion of old age assistance, see Chap. XXIV. 

[ 35 ] 


for the arts. Such developments in turn may influence the outlook and 
taste of the whole population. 

Young Adults. In the proportion which it bears to the total popula- 
tion the age group 2064 shows little change. During the next twenty 
years there will probably be an increase of about 1 percent in the pro- 
portion 20-44 and about 4 percent in the proportion 45-64. This indicates 
that the productive power of the nation will not be affected to any 
marked extent if persons 45-64 can be given suitable work; but it is more 
difficult to judge the effects of age changes on consuming capacity. 
Perhaps a little light can be shed on both questions by estimating the 
number of producing and consuming units represented by a population 
with the age distribution of 1910 and 1930 and then with the age dis- 
tribution that will probably come about by 1950. 

As a result of such calculations, 25 it is found that in 1910 and 1930 
there was 1 producing unit to 1.67 consuming units. It is reasonably 
certain, therefore, that in recent years the problem of finding employ- 
ment has not been aggravated appreciably by the fact of a change in 
age composition, nor has there been any increase in the proportion of 
dependents. Applying the same units to the estimated white and Negro 
populations in 1950, it is found that the producing units will have in- 
creased about 5.5 percent faster than the consuming units and that there 
will be 1 producing unit to 1.59 consuming units. The employment prob- 
lem may, therefore, be slightly aggravated in the future by the fact of 
age changes. But if the employment problem is solved, the burden 
of dependency should grow lighter in consequence of the relatively larger 
proportion of the population in the productive ages. 

Sex Ratios and Marital Conditions. 26 The sex ratio in the United 
States reached a high point for recent years in 1910 when there were 106 
males to 100 females. It has been falling since then and in 1930 was only 
102.5. This ratio is determined by three factors, the excess of males 
among immigrants, the excess of male births and the higher male death 
rates at most ages. 

Within a country the sex ratio in any particular locality is also 
affected by the nature and amount of internal migration. Thus the west 
has always had a large excess of males while some of the older parts of 
the country have long had an excess of females. Perhaps a more significant 
difference is that existing between city and country. In general, cities 
have an excess of females, while rural districts have an excess of males. 
There are some exceptions to this rule in the cities having heavy indus- 
tries, but it holds for most cities, even for those having large numbers of 

26 Explained in the monograph, Population Trends in the United States. 

26 These topics will be treated in detail in the monograph, Population Trends in the 
United States. On account of space limitations only a few observations on sex ratios are 
included here. 

[ 36 ] 


foreign born. Agriculture is primarily a man's job, while occupations 
suited to women abound in cities. Furthermore, male death rates are 
higher relative to female death rates in cities than in rural districts. 


In section I the downward trend in annual population growth for 
the last few years was pointed out, but little was said as to whether 
this came about through a decreasing number of births, an increasing 
number of deaths, or the decline in immigration. Although the federal 
government has compiled statistics on immigration for many years, 
primary responsibility for the registration of births and deaths has 
rested with the states. Most states neglected this matter before 1910, 
but subsequently the number of states requiring birth and death registra- 
tion increased rapidly up to 1929, when it included all but South Dakota 
and Texas. By supplementing registration figures with estimates of the 
births and deaths in non-registration states, it is possible to secure fairly 
accurate figures for the total population from 1910 to date, and for 
native whites, foreign born whites, and Negroes from 1920 to date. 

Deaths. Since 1910 the number of deaths each year has been close 
to 1,450,000, except in 1918 when 83,000 war fatalities and 477,000 
influenza deaths raised the total to 2,030,000. (Figure 18.) From 1927 
to 1931 the average number of deaths was 1,450,000, which is only slightly 
above the average of 1,439,000 during 19101914, in spite of the large 
growth in population from 1910 to 193 1. 27 

Immigration. The volume of immigration has varied from year to 
year much more than the number of deaths. (Figure 18.) The excess of 
persons entering the United States over those departing amounted to as 
many as 945,000 in 1913 and 754,000 in 1923, while net departures reached 
the extremes of 214,000 in 1918 and 130,000 in 1931. 28 Before the out- 
break of the World War, immigration was relatively unrestricted (except 
from Asia), the movement depending largely upon the economic advan- 
tages which aliens could secure by coming here instead of remaining at 
home. During the war there was little immigration; but within a few 
years after the armistice, immigration probably would have reached its 
old levels, had it not been restricted by the quota laws. During the fiscal 
years 1922-1924 the maximum number of quota immigrants admissible 
varied between 356,995 and 357,803 per year, but this was reduced to 
164,667 on July 1, 1924 and to 153,714 on July 1, 1929. Beginning in the 
autumn of 1930, immigration was still further restricted by the refusal 

27 For a more detailed discussion see Chap. XII, and the monograph, Population Trends 
in the United States. 

28 These figures include both aliens and citizens entering continental United States 
from, or leaving it for, foreign countries 1910-1931, and also entering from, or leaving for, 
insular possessions 1919-1931. 

[ 37 ] 


of visas to aliens deemed likely to become public charges. Since the Con- 
tract Labor Law of 1885 prohibits the entrance of immigrants with jobs, 
about the only persons who can enter are those with independent means 
or with relatives able to support them. In 1930 there were about 180,000 
immigrant aliens admitted and in 1931 only about 43,000. Offsetting 
these arrivals were emigrant aliens leaving the United States, numbering 
about 53,000 in 1930 and 89,000 in 1931. This outward movement has 
always existed in a greater or lesser degree but it was probably accelerated 
in these two years by the growing unemployment. 





Deaths 01 

1910 'II 'IZ '13 U '15 '16 '17 '18 '19 'ZO 'Zl 'ZZ - Z3 'Z4 75 'Z6 - Z7 Z8 '29 '30 1931 

FIG. 18. Annual births, deaths and net immigration for the total population, 1910-1931. 
Contains allowance for estimated number of births and deaths not registered. 
6 The excess of aliens and citizens arriving in, over those departing from, continental United States. 
c Preliminary estimates. 

Considering the future trend in immigration, it is likely that with 
an improvement of business conditions, arrivals will again exceed depar- 
tures. If the improvement goes far enough, this net increase may reach 
the quota limits for the European countries, and the levels of 1925- 
1929 for Canada and Mexico, the main sources of non-quota immigration. 
There is, however, the possibility that Congress may make further 
changes in quota restrictions and may extend the system to countries 
not now affected. The amount of immigration in the future, therefore, 
depends so largely on the course of economic recovery and on congres- 
sional action, that it is difficult to forecast with much assurance. The 

[ 38 ] 


temper of the nation appears to favor the severe restriction of immigra- 
tion, and even the return of good times may not lead to a marked relaxa- 
tion of such restrictions. 

Births. Fluctuations in births from year to year (Figure 18), while 
not as violent as those in immigration, have had important effects on 
population growth. From 1910 to 1918, there was a steady increase in 
births from 2,542,000 to 2,834,000. They declined by 200,000 in 1919 
and then rose to a maximum of 2,950,000 in 1921, the mobilization and 
demobilization of a large army being chiefly responsible for the changes. 
This high level was maintained to 1924 but since then there has been 
a rapid and almost uninterrupted decline. Preliminary reports for 1931 
indicate 2,445,000 births, 29 which is 500,000 below the 1921 figure, and 
even below that of 1910 when the population was smaller by 31,000,000 
people. It is this drop in births, together with the restricted immigration 
under the quota laws and public charge regulation, which have made the 
population increase in 1931 less than half of what it was in 1913, 1920, 
1921 and 1923, and only three-fifths of the average for 1910-1930, which 
includes the abnormal year of 1918. 

Is the decline in births, which has gone on since 1924, to be checked, 
or is it likely to continue? The fact that there were about 125,000 fewer 
births in 1931 than in 1930 is thought by some persons to be a result of 
the business depression which began in the fall of 1929. Studies by 
Hexter 30 and others have indicated that the birth rate is affected by the 
business situation. If this is true, conceptions should be less numerous 
in 1931 than in 1930, and hence births fewer in 1932 than in 1931. It 
seems probable, however, that the decline in 1931 is not due wholly to the 
depression, but is in part a continuation of the previous downward 

But even if the depression has exerted some downward pressure on 
the number of births, it does not follow that the return of prosperity will 
cause births to rise; for births were declining during the years 1925- 
1928 when business conditions were generally thought to be improving. 
Probably it is more correct to think that the return of good times may 
gradually check the decline and cause relative stabilization somewhere 
below the present level. 

Births and Deaths by Race and Nativity. Births and deaths may 
be considered separately for native whites, foreign born whites and 
Negroes after 1920. (Figure 19.) In this period there has been a slight 
upward trend in the number of deaths, largest among Negroes and 

29 The 1931 figures are preliminary estimates based on data from the vital statistics 
offices of forty-one states, and are subject to change when complete reports on births by 
race are issued by the Division of Vital Statistics, Bureau of the Census. 

30 Hexter, Maurice Beck, Social Consequences of Business Cycles, Boston and New York, 
1925, Chap. II. 

[ 39 ] 


smallest among native whites. Immigration of Negroes is small, 31 so what 
has previously been said regarding total immigration applies almost 
entirely to the foreign born white group. Considering births, the highest 
point for native whites 32 was 2,583,000 in 1921, with a decline to about 
2,130,000 in 1931. Negro births reached a maximum of 363,000 in 1926 
(five years later than whites), and then declined to about 305,000 in 
1931. This is a decline of more than one-seventh for both groups, but it 
has been spread over ten years in the case of whites against five years 
for Negroes. 

I I I 

iirths to Native White Women 

I92O 1921 

1922 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927 

1929 I93O 1931 

FIG. 19. Births and deaths by race and nativity, 1920-1931. (Mexicans included with 


Birth Rates. A better idea of why the number of births has fluctu- 
ated in the past and of what the future course may be can be obtained 
by considering birth rates. The simplest type of birth rate, called the 
crude birth rate, is obtained by dividing total births by total population. 
The crude birth rate increased from 26.6 in 1910 to a peak of 28.1 in 1914 
and then declined until 1919, when the low point of 25.1 was reached 
largely as a result of army mobilization. With demobilization, the rate 
again rose, reaching 27.1 in 1921, since which year there has been a decline 

31 The excess of Negroes entering the United States over those departing averaged 
less than 1,100 annually from 1925 to 1931. 

32 Births to foreign born mothers count as native births, the foreign born population 
being kept up by immigration only. 

[ 40 1 


of over one-fourth to 19.7 in 1931. Because of the growth of population, 
years of increasing births have shown smaller increases in crude birth 
rates, while years of decreasing births have shown larger declines in 
crude birth rates. Thus, the decline of about one-fourth in the birth rate 
from 1921 to 1931 resulted from a decrease of less than one-sixth in the 
number of births. 

Crude birth rates are often misleading because they depend upon 
the age and sex composition of the population. Most births occur to 
women from 15-44 years of age, so that if one population differs from 
another only in having a higher proportion of women in these ages, it 
will have a correspondingly higher birth rate. Such difficulties may be 
avoided by classifying births according to the age of the mother, for 
example by dividing the number of births to women aged 20-24 by the 
number of women of that age. The results give births by age of women 
and are known as specific rates. They may be calculated only for years 
near the census date, when the number of women of each age is known, 
and for states which register births by age of mother. To ascertain the 
recent trend, the period 1918-1921, with the census of January 1, 1920, in 
the center, can be taken as a starting point. It includes 1919, a year of 
low birth rates due to the mobilization of 1918 and earlier, and also 1921, 
a year of high birth rates following demobilization, so the average should 
be fair. The most recent period that can be used is 1928-1929, as the 
tabulation of 1930 births by age of mother has not yet been published by 
the Bureau of the Census (September, 1932). These births are divided by 
the number of women in each age period on January 1, 1929, estimated 
by interpolation between the 1920 and 1930 censuses. 

Specific Birth Rates by Race and Nativity. Comparing the specific 
birth rates for 1928-1929 with those for 1918-1921, a marked downward 
trend is found, as is shown in Figure 20. Native white, foreign born 
white, and Negro women showed large declines in specific birth rates 
and in each group the drop was greatest in the latter part of the child- 
bearing period. Among native white women the birth rate in the 15-19 
age group was almost unchanged, but at greater ages the decreases varied 
from 11 percent at age 20-24 to 22 percent at ages 40-44. If the native 
white birth rates at each age are weighted according to the total number 
of women of that age in the 1930 census, and then averaged, the stand- 
ardized birth rate is obtained. This rate fell 13 percent during the period. 
Among foreign born white women, the specific birth rate at age 15-19 
fell over one-fourth, while at greater ages the drop was about one-third. 
These declines average more than twice as large as those of native whites. 
Negro women maintained their standardized birth rate at a level nearer 
that of 1918-1921 than foreign born white women and native white 
women. There was an increase in the Negro rate at age 15-19, the only 

F 41 1 


increase shown in Figure 20. At age 20-24 the decline was smaller than 
that of native white women but at greater ages it was larger. 

That declines in specific birth rates were so much larger among foreign 
born white women than among native whites or Negroes is probably 
due chiefly to the Americanizing of the foreign born, a process that had 
little counterpart among natives. Due to the smaller additions to the 
foreign group in 1920-1930 because of the immigration restrictions, the 
immigrant women in the 1930 population had spent more years in the 
United States than those of the 1920 population. There had thus been 

Births per NATIVE WHITE 

,000 Women WOMEN 01 




Births per 





15-19 20-Z4 25-39 3O-34 35-39 4O-44 15-19 2O-Z4 25-29 3O-34 35-39 4O-44 

Age of Women Age of Women 

FIG. 20. Birth rates by age, race, and nativity of women, 1918-1921 and 1928-1929.* 

<* Includes Mexicans, their births having been registered as white. 

6 Calculated for the 1919 birth registration area (excluding Maine) according to method discussed in text. 

more opportunity for them to shed the ideals and standards of the old 
country, and to adopt those of American women. 

Although the trend of specific birth rates can only be determined 
accurately since about 1920, there is evidence that the decreases in this 
period continue a decline which began much earlier. The ratio of children 
0-4 to women 15-44, which may be obtained for each census since 1800, 
is similar to an average of specific birth rates. This ratio has declined in 
almost every decade since 1810 and in 1930 was less than 60 percent of 
the 1850 level. (Figure 22.) 

Substantiating this is a study made by the Milbank Memorial Fund 
of the size of several thousand families in northern and western states. 

[ 42 ] 


The results indicate that from 1890 to 1910 the proportion of childless 
and one child families increased from 28.0 percent to 39.4 percent in 
the professional group, from 23.6 percent to 39.4 percent in the business 
group, from 22.1 percent to 34.4 percent in the skilled labor group, from 
16.8 percent to 31.2 percent in the unskilled labor group, and from 17.8 
percent to 20.7 percent in the farm owner group. 33 It is probable that 
the proportion of small families has increased still more since 1910 and 
that the tendency for small families to gain most rapidly in groups where 
they were least numerous earlier has finally reached the farm owner 
group. 34 The omission from the last two census enumerations of the 
questions bearing on this matter makes it impossible to bring the Milbank 
study up to date. 

It is the opinion of the authors that the increasing practice of con- 
traception is the outstanding factor in the decline in birth rates. The 
larger decreases in the rates in the older groups are just what one would 
expect if the decline is due to voluntary control. In the great masses of 
the laboring population older married couples who already have all the 
children they can care for will almost certainly be at greater pains to 
prevent additional conceptions than younger couples who are still child- 
less or have only one or two children. But it would certainly be a mistake 
for us to ignore other factors in reducing the birth rate which are con- 
sidered of importance by those who are well informed about them. Thus 
there are many competent physicians who believe that abortion is respon- 
sible for much of the decline of the birth rate. Another factor is the increas- 
ing failure of the reproductive system to function normally either because 
of disease or because of modern modes of life. Much sterility, both com- 
plete and partial, is thought to arise from disease (particularly venereal 
disease), from the nervous strain of city life, from the sedentary habits of 
many city dwellers, or from faults in diet attributable to the increasing 
distance between the producer and consumer of food and more refined 
modes of preparing it; in a word, from the general derangement of bodily 
functions arising out of the changes incident to passing from an agricul- 
tural to an industrial economy. Unfortunately, practically nothing is 
known of the relative importance of these various factors; hence it is 
inevitable that the social scientist, the physician and the biologist, 
approaching the problem from different angles, should hold opinions 
which are widely at variance. 

Regional Variations in Birth Rates. So far, the trends in specific 
birth rates have been considered for the entire registration area of 1919. 
The degree of change has varied considerably among the different states, 
as may be seen from Figure 21, which presents the standardized birth 

33 Notestein, Frank W., "The Decrease in Size of Families from 1890 to 1910," Quar- 
terly Bulletin of the Milbank Memorial Fund, October, 1931, vol. IX, no. 4, pp. 181-188. 

34 See data on size of family, Chap. XIII. 

F 43 1 


rate (the weighted average of the specific birth rates) for groups of states 
having similar specific rates. In each group there was a decline in the 
standardized rate for whites during the last decade and in two of the four 
groups the Negro rate decreased. The native white standardized rate 
declined least in New Hampshire and Vermont (4.7 percent), and most 
in Utah (19.3 percent) and five southern states (19.5 percent). There was 


1 1920-1929 















FIG. 21. Standardized birth rates by race and nativity for groups of states, 1918-1921 

and 1928-1929." 

Includes Mexicans, their births having been registered as white. 
6 Negro rates not shown for states having small Negro population. 
e Calculated for the 1919 birth registration area (excluding Maine) according to method discussed in text. 

a tendency for the decreases to be larger in states having higher rates in 
1918-1921 and smaller in states having lower rates. The Pacific states 
were the outstanding exception to this tendency, for their birth rate was 
barely half that of Utah or five southern states, yet it decreased nearly 
as rapidly. 

Declines in the standardized birth rates of foreign born white women 
were much larger than those of native white women in every group of 
states. New Hampshire and Vermont again showed the smallest decline, 



while the largest occurred in the Pacific states where the 1918-1921 rates 
were lowest. With foreign born white birth rates there was little if any 
tendency for the states with higher standardized rates in 1918-1921 to 
show large decreases. 

The largest decline in the standardized birth rate of Negro women 
took place in the five southern states where the rate was highest in 1918- 
1921. (Figure 21.) This is typical of the bulk of the Negro population, 
since southern Negroes still outnumber northern Negroes by nearly 
three to one. Not too much weight should be given to the increase in the 
two northern areas because the makeup of their Negro population 
in 1918-1921 probably was unusual because of the large northward 

The relation of rural life to the trend of specific birth rates should be 
noted. On the whole, the agricultural states had higher rates in 1918-1921 
and larger declines since. This is what might be expected from the study 
of the Milbank Memorial Fund, previously cited. It showed that the four 
groups primarily urban (professional, business, and skilled and unskilled 
labor) had somewhat lower birth rates than the rural group (farm owners) 
in 1890 and suffered declines nearly twice as large from 1890 to 1910. 
The rural rate was thus considerably above the urban in 1910, conse- 
quently it would be expected to have the largest subsequent decrease. 
Assuming that contraception is the chief means by which the decline 
of the birth rate has been effected, the inference is inevitable that it was 
practiced first among the professional and business classes, spread to 
the skilled labor and unskilled labor groups and reached farmers and 
country dwellers last. But after reaching them, the drop in rural birth 
rates was the largest, rates of other groups having fallen previously. 

The more rapid downward movement of native white specific birth 
rates than of Negro rates during the past decade has cut heavily into 
the differential in favor of native whites which formerly existed in most 
parts of the United States. In 1918-1921 the standardized birth rate of 
native white women was 8 percent higher than that of Negroes in the 
five southern states (Figure 21), nearly 30 percent higher in the six 
north central states, 21 percent higher in Pennsylvania and 4 percent 
lower in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York. By 1928-1929, 
however, the white rate was 1 percent lower than the Negro rate in 
Pennsylvania and the five southern states, 10 percent lower in Mass- 
achusetts, Connecticut, and New York, and 11 percent higher in the 
six north central states. 35 

36 This discussion is based on the specific rates in Figure 21, which include registered 
births only. Since it is possible that non-registered births amount to as much as 5 to 10 
percent of white births and 10 to 20 percent of Negro births, the Negro birth rates in 1918- 
1921 may have been nearer the native white rates than Figure 21 indicates, and even above 
them in 1928-1929. 

[ 45 ] 


Here again, the more rapid downward trends of native white than of 
Negro specific birth rates is what would be anticipated if the practice of 
contraception is the main immediate cause of fewer births. Regulation 
of the size of families would be expected to start in the more educated 
urban groups and to reach the less educated rural groups last of all. In 
1930, 40 percent of the Negroes lived on farms compared with 25 percent 
of the native whites and this relatively larger group of Negroes had 
much poorer educational facilities. For these reasons they would be slower 
in learning about birth control and in practicing it. But during some 
future period, perhaps not far distant, the drop in the birth rate of rural 
Negroes should be greater than that of native whites. 

Estimating Future Population Growth. At various places in this 
chapter references have been made to the probable size and makeup of 
the population in future years. Figures on annual births, deaths and 
immigration furnish a base for estimating the immediate future, but if 
the probable trend over a longer interval is desired a more complicated 
method must be followed; though of course no mathematical formula can 
forecast population growth with absolute accuracy, no matter how well 
it may describe growth in past years. 36 

But even if the course of population growth cannot be foretold exactly, 
it will be worth while to know what the population will be according to 
certain assumptions as to immigration and specific birth and death rates, 
assumptions that may seem reasonable judging from trends during 
recent years. Estimates on several different assumptions have been 
worked out by the Scripps Foundation for Research in Population Prob- 
lems, two of which will be discussed here. These indicate up to 1980 the 
limits between which the actual population probably will lie. 

Minimum and Maximum Assumptions. For the probable minimum 
it is assumed that immigration of whites (excluding Mexicans) and Negroes 
will be offset by emigration during 1930-1934 but that net immigration 
will average 50,000 per year for whites and 800 for Negroes during 1935- 
1939 and 100,000 per year for whites and 800 for Negroes thereafter. For 
the probable maximum an average annual net immigration of 20,000 for 
whites and 800 for Negroes during 1930-1934, 100,000 for whites and 
1,600 for Negroes during 1935-1939, and 200,000 for whites and 1,600 
for Negroes thereafter is assumed. 

For the probable minimum it is assumed that white births (excluding 
Mexicans) will average 2,100,000 and Negro births 300,000 annually 

36 An /-shaped curve has been fitted to the past population of the United States by 
Pearl and Reed, and prolonged to indicate the future population. To the authors, it seems 
probable that these estimates will prove too high due to restricted immigration and lowered 
birth rates. In fact, Pearl and Reed have shown that it may be necessary to join together 
two /-shaped curves to fit the past where conditions of growth have changed sufficiently in a 
country. There is no way now of telling whether or how soon a second curve may need to 
be joined to the present curve for the United States in order to fit future growth. 

r 46 1 


during 1930-1934, which continues the decline of recent years. (Figure 
19.) This will mean that the average specific birth rates in 1930-1934 
will have declined from the 1925-1929 level by 9.6 percent for native 
whites, 16.2 percent for foreign born whites and 8.0 percent for Negroes. 
During subsequent years the decrease in birth rates is assumed to con- 
tinue at a declining rate until a stationary condition is reached in 1970 
at 67 percent of the 1930 level for native whites, 65 percent for foreign 
born whites, and 64 percent for Negroes. (See Figure 20 for 1930 rates.) 






Wh tes- 

'v" Negroes 

Death Rate- 


^Death Rate-Negroes 

Logarithmic Sca/a 


I65O I860 1670 I88O I89O I9OO I9IO I9ZO I93O I94O I95O I960 I97O I98O 

FIG. 22. Past and possible future trends, by race, of ratio of children to women and of 

death rates, 1850-1980. 

Based on expectation of life shown by selected Life Tables. Estimated for 1940 to 1980 according to 
probable minimum assumptions. 

The probable maximum assumes 2,150,000 white births and 305,000 
Negro births annually during 1930-1934, with specific birth rates de- 
creasing less rapidly than minimum rates. In 1945 these rates would 
become stationary at 88 percent of the 1930 level for native whites, 82 
percent for foreign born whites, and 86 percent for Negroes. An idea 
of how the trend of the probable minimum compares with that of the last 
several decades may be had by examining Figure 22, which is based on 
the ratio of children 0-4 to women 15-44. The decline of this ratio has 
been less than that of the birth rate, because of the lowering of infant 

[ 47 ] 


mortality. Nevertheless, it is the only measure available for decades 
before 1910, since few states then had birth registration. 

The infant mortality rate for whites declined from 82.1 in 1920 to 
60.2 in 1930 and for Negroes from 135.6 to 95.1. The probable minimum 
assumes a further decline for whites (excluding Mexicans) to 55 in 1940 
and to 52 in 1950 and for Negroes to 85 and 80, with small decreases 
subsequently. The probable maximum assumes a decline for whites to 50 
in 1940 and 45 in 1950, and for Negroes to 75 and 65, with small decreases 
subsequently. The expectation of life of whites was 56.4 years in 1919 ac- 
cording to the Foudray Life Tables and appears to have been lengthened 
to almost 60 years in 1930. The probable minimum assumes the expecta- 
tion of life for whites (excluding Mexicans) will gradually rise to 66 years 
in 1970 and then remain at that figure. For Negroes, a weighted average 
of the expectation of life in southern and northern states, as given in 
the Foudray Life Tables for 1919-1920, was 45.3 years. An expectation 
of life of 47.6 years in 1930 is assumed, rising to 54 years in 1970 and 
then remaining stationary. The probable maximum assumes the expecta- 
tion of life for whites will gradually rise to 73 years in 1980 and for Negroes 
to 62 years. How the probable minimum assumption continues past 
trends is approximately indicated by Figure 22. 

The probable minimum assumes that "other colored" (including 
Mexicans) will continue to amount to 1.67 percent of the white and 
Negro races as they did in 1930. The probable maximum assumes that 
"other colored" will rise to 2 percent of the white and Negro races in 
1940, 2.5 percent in 1950, and finally to 4 percent in 1980. 

Taking as a starting point the 1930 census population by age periods, 
the deaths by age may be calculated by means of the estimated specific 
death rates and the births to women at each age by means of the esti- 
mated specific birth rates. Subtracting the estimates of deaths and 
adding those of births and net immigration gives the population by age 
periods one year later. By repeating the process it is possible to calculate 
by age periods the population which will result in any future year if the 
trends assumed for birth rates, death rates and immigration are actually 
realized. (See Figure 16 for age composition in 1950.) 

Probable Population after 1930. The maximum and minimum 
assumptions above described indicate a population between 132,500,- 
000 and 134,500,000 in 1940, between 140,500,000 and 148,500,000 in 
1950 and between 145,000,000 and 190,000,000 in 1980. According to 
the minimum estimate, the population will reach its greatest size (approxi- 
mately 146,000,000) between 1965 and 1970 and will subsequently 
decline, while the maximum estimate indicates increases up to the 
end of the century. It is believed by the authors, however, that the actual 
population will be considerably nearer the minimum than the maximum 

[ 48 ] 


figure, especially by 1980. The birth rate has been declining in the United 
States since 1810, hence it seems more likely that it will continue to de- 
cline until 1970 rather than become stationary in 1945, as the maximum 
assumes. Even according to the minimum assumption for birth rates in 
1980, there will be about 195 births per hundred women who marry as 
compared with 280 in 1930. This would make families average nearly 
two children, which is far different from having all families childless, 
the absolute extreme to which the birth rate can decline. For this reason, 
references to future population in preceding sections 37 are based on 
weighted average of the maximum and minimum. Equal weights are 
used in 1940 but the minimum is given increasing weight up to 75 percent 
in 1980. 

Considering the probability that the 1950 population will be between 
140,500,000 and 148,500,000, it should be remembered that there is 
little chance of error in saying that there will be about 96,000,000 sur- 
vivors from the 1930 population in 1950. This number is obtained by 
applying death rates to the 1930 population and allowing for emigration. 
Death rates at ages over one year have changed but little in recent years, 38 
while emigration has averaged about 100,000 a year since 1920. The 
remainder of the 1950 population will be made up of persons born here 
or immigrating after 1930. These two movements cannot be foretold with 
as much accuracy as the number of deaths, but together they will account 
for only about one-third of the total. 

Consequences of Slower Population Growth. The consequences 
upon our social and economic life of the slower population growth which 
seems assured for the future are likely to be many. In the past there 
has been a widespread belief that a rapidly growing population was one 
of the essential conditions of general progress. While rapid growth of 
population undoubtedly has contributed to past progress, the slowing up 
of growth in the future need not be accompanied by gradual stagnation. 

As a slower growth in population affects a larger and larger part 
of the nation, one of the most important consequences is likely to be a 
revaluation of the importance of growth. Changes should come to 
be appraised in other than quantitative terms. It is impossible to foretell 
the direction or the extent of the changes in mental outlook which will 
ensue; but it may be hazarded that purely quantitative measurement 
will bulk less large in a judgment of what constitutes progress and that 
the quality of living will secure greater attention. 

An immediate and practical influence of slower population growth 
will probably manifest itself in efforts to adjust economic activity to 
such growth. In all likelihood this adjustment will not be particularly 

37 See Figures 1, 3, 16 and accompanying discussion. 

38 See Chap. XII. 

[ 49 ] 


difficult in most lines, once business men are fully convinced that popula- 
tion growth will slacken and are able to estimate with fair accuracy the 
population for five or ten years in advance. That this change in attitude 
may not be easily effected is indicated by the fact that a population of 
from 200,000,000 to 300,000,000 by the year 2000 is frequently assumed 
by sales managers and executives. Just because the population in 1860 
was eight times as large as in 1790, and in 1930 was four times as large 
as in 1860, one is not justified in saying that in 2000 it will be twice as 
large as in 1930. 

Certain industries will face difficult and extensive problems in adjust- 
ing to a slower population growth; these will be the ones most affected 
by the probable future trends in population. They include industries in 
which technical improvements are rapidly increasing human efficiency, 
those in which consumption per capita is relatively inelastic, those in 
which productive capacity is already largely in excess of effective demand 
and those in which capital (including land) is relatively durable, non- 
transferable and has a high value per unit of product. 

Some industries, of which agriculture is an example, will be handi- 
capped by a combination of several of these unfavorable factors. Farm 
production has been over-expanded since the World War, efficiency has 
increased rapidly, foods in general face an inelastic demand, and the 
proportion of capital in land is high, as is also land value per unit of 
product. Any policies for the utilization of farm land in the future must 
give careful consideration to the probable growth of population if they 
are to prevent the farm population from sinking to a low economic level. 

There are other industries which seem directly dependent upon 
population increase for their growth. These industries will feel the effects 
of an approaching stationary population in proportion to the degree they 
have a stable product or have already reached the saturation point. The 
present radio may be replaced by an improved model at any time, but 
the kitchen stove is usually kept until worn out. The point is that some 
industries can expect to expand only as population grows, even if purchas- 
ing power grows considerably. 

On the other hand, there are many industries, probably producing the 
majority of all industrial goods, whose growth is largely independent of 
population increase. They could sell their product in much greater quan- 
tity if the public had the money to buy it. To such industries raising the 
per capita purchasing power of the public will be a vastly greater concern 
as population growth is retarded. Making better customers of the popula- 
tion at large may require raising wages and salaries, which may tem- 
porarily reduce profits to some extent. But there will be less need to use 
profits for increasing plant capacity until the increased purchasing power 
of the bulk of the consumers has offset slower population growth. In 



the future plant expansion should be based upon probable increase in the 
purchasing power of the population rather than upon the belief that 
population growth will soon overtake any expansion which available 
capital makes possible. 

It may be argued that even though the population of the United States 
is growing slowly and may soon become practically stationary, industry 
can continue to expand by increasing foreign trade. In the long run it 
seems debatable if much relief can be found in this direction. In the first 
place, population growth is slowing up in practically all of the countries 
with which the United States trades on a large scale, and will soon be 
stationary in many of them. Secondly, all other industrial nations are 
competing more and more strenuously for such trade. Finally, the tend- 
ency to raise tariff barriers, which still shows no sign of abatement, handi- 
caps international trade. The slower growth of population is not the sole 
or even the chief factor in rendering more serious the economic difficulties 
into which the country has drifted. But it does seem to merit careful 
consideration in future planning for the rationalization of social and 
economic life. 


Early Encouragement of Growth. It is not difficult to show that, 
consciously or unconsciously, the United States has had a population 
policy from a relatively early date. From the time when settlement first 
took place most communities wanted people, partly to increase the 
safety of life and property and partly because of the effect on land values. 
Most of the individuals and companies who received large grants of 
land, or were able to purchase it cheaply from public authorities, made 
efforts to have their lands occupied. It is well known, for example, that 
William Penn made strenuous efforts to get settlers on his grant and that 
at times his success was sufficient to incur the dislike of men in other 
communities who felt that he was using unfair means to attract people 
to his domains. 

Because of such interest the settlement of the land was encouraged 
in a variety of ways. The land policy provided free or cheap land in farm 
units to foreigners as well as natives if they would settle and work it. 
Immigration policies permitted easy entry, offered political asylum and 
allowed the importation of slaves for a time. Political leaders spread 
the idea that here the common man had opportunities never before open 
to him. Immigrants came in great numbers and the surplus youth in 
the east moved westward in a steady stream. By about 1890 the actual 
settlement of the land was almost completed; but since the industrial 
development of the country was also well under way by that time, there 
was still need for immigrants. The steamship companies and other 

[ 51 1 


interests which profited by immigration saw to it that the advantages 
of coming to the United States were well advertised. The policy of the 
"open door'* was a huge success in peopling the land. 

Gradual Restriction of Immigration. Although public encourage- 
ment of immigration was generally accepted, there have always been 
those who felt that the "new" immigrants were inferior and that some- 
thing should be done to preserve the economic advantages of the country 
for the descendants of early arrivals. Nevertheless, it was not until about 
fifty years ago that active steps were taken to close the door to "unde- 
sirable " groups other than criminals or those afflicted with certain diseases. 
In 1882, partly as a consequence of racial troubles in the west, the first 
Chinese Exclusion Act was passed. In 1885, under pressure of organized 
labor, the Alien Contract Labor Law was passed. This forbade the 
entrance of foreigners under contract to individuals or firms and was 
intended to prevent employers from breaking strikes and undercutting 
wages by using cheap labor recruited by agents in foreign countries. 
These early acts clearly indicate that, under certain circumstances, an 
increase of numbers was not considered the highest good by all groups. 

Step by step federal policy has thus gone from the one extreme of 
stimulating immigration to the opposite extreme. The exhaustion of 
desirable free land put an end to the public encouragement of agricultural 
immigrants. More drastic is the present policy, which assigns to each 
country in the Eastern Hemisphere an annual immigration quota. 39 
The various quota laws in effect since June 3, 1921, also represent an 
effort to influence the makeup of the population to preserve the composi- 
tion attained before the arrival of the millions of eastern and southern 
Europeans who came during the present century. The quotas in effect 
since July 1, 1929, are based upon the proportions of the population 
springing from the different national stocks, and definitely favor northern 
and western Europeans. Quotas have not yet been applied to Canada 
and Latin America but may be applied in the future. The open door 
policy of the past is completely abandoned; not only are numbers re- 
stricted but there is definite selection as to kind. 

Supplementing the quota laws are various administrative regulations. 
Those providing for the deportation of aliens who have entered illegally 
have been vigorously enforced in recent years, resulting in thousands of 
expulsions plus a large but unknown number of departures caused by 
fear of deportation. A more drastic influence in restricting immigration 
has been the regulation in force since the latter part of 1930 under which a 
visa is denied to a prospective immigrant if it is believed that he may 
become a public charge. This practically excludes aliens without jobs 
(unless wealthy), while the Alien Contract Labor Law excludes aliens 

? 9 NO immigration of Orientals ineligible for citizenship is allowed. 

[ 52 ] 


with jobs. As a result, the stream of immigration has been reversed, and 
since November, 1930, more aliens have been leaving the United States 
than have been entering. 

Changing Attitude Toward Large Families. The same attitudes 
of mind which counted unrestricted immigration as a good also en- 
couraged the raising of large families. Furthermore, large families were of 
direct advantage to much of the population. Farmers with several sons 
were assured of a steady labor supply with little or no wage payment, 
while other workingmen had augmented family incomes if several minor 
children were at work. Besides, having numerous children was probably the 
most certain form of insuring old age security in a pioneering community. 

The general attitude toward birth control and large families which 
prevailed prior to 1870 may be illustrated by an incident which occurred 
in 1832. At that time Charles Knowlton wrote a little pamphlet (published 
in New York City) entitled Fruits of Philosophy; or the Private Companion 
of Young Married People in which he advocated contraception and 
described some of the methods by which it might be accomplished. This 
was considered an offense against public morality, and Knowlton was 
punished by fine and imprisonment. 

There is little to record regarding the birth control movement between 
Knowlton's time and 1873 when Congress passed the so-called Comstock 
Laws "for the suppression of trade in, and circulation of obscene litera- 
ture and articles of immoral use," which in effect outlawed information 
about practices and devices for preventing conceptions. The passage of 
these laws would seem to be evidence that birth control was becoming 
sufficiently common to attract the attention of those who were opposed 
to it, on whatever grounds. In more recent years, particularly since 
Margaret Sanger attempted to open a birth control clinic in 1916, there 
has been considerable legal conflict between those who believe that man 
has the right to control his family numbers and those who believe that 
such control is harmful from a moral, national or personal point of view. 
However, there is increasing opposition to measures which interfere with 
the individual control of the size of the family. Between the mild enforce- 
ment of restrictive laws by public authorities and the general disregard 
of them by individuals, these laws are of little consequence at present. 

In this connection it should be noted that birth control legislation 
undoubtedly has had some effect upon the sources of growth in the popu- 
lation. Had no restrictions been placed on the spread of birth control 
information and had clinics been permitted to function freely, it is prob- 
able that birth control would have spread more evenly through social 
classes and that the decline in the birth rate among poorer and less edu- 
cated people would have been more closely comparable with the decline 
among the better educated and the well to do. (See pages 42 and 43.) 

f 53 1 


Laws against the wilful inducing of abortion have long been on the 
statute books and have been fairly successful in keeping down the 
number of abortions. Nevertheless, it is the opinion of many persons 
in a position to know that countless thousands of abortions are brought 
about in the United States each year, with a restricting effect on 
population growth. 

There are certain other laws which also exert some influence upon 
population growth, although they were not passed with any thought of 
doing so. Thus the laws governing child labor and compulsory school 
attendance have little by little reduced the economic value of children 
to their parents. 40 Working in the opposite direction, but of far less 
potency, are free child health clinics, free lunches in schools and income 
tax exemptions according to the number of dependent children. 

Need of a Well Thought Out Policy. The net result of these conflict- 
ing tendencies is a large measure of restriction of population growth based 
upon the belief that life will be more desirable if numbers are limited in 
accordance with means of support. But since this restriction is more or 
less haphazard in operation, it would seem desirable that more thought 
should be given to a conscious and deliberate population policy for the 
future. Otherwise the present methods of restriction may result in neither 
the most desirable quantity nor the best possible quality. 

Regulation of Numbers. The optimum size of population is a highly 
controversial topic. Militarists have always believed that a large and 
rapidly growing population is desirable, while many religious groups and 
ethical teachers have held the same view, though from quite different 
motives. On the other hand, there have always been individuals who 
believe that personal development and the service of God and man are 
better performed by those having few or no children; and today there is 
a rapidly growing body of persons who are convinced that the population 
should be adjusted to the economic resources available for its support. 
There is no immediate prospect of reconciling these divergent views; but 
assuming that this can be done, attention will be turned for a moment to 
the means by which a given population might be achieved. 

It seems probable that numbers can be kept as low as the community 
may deem expedient, since immigration is proving to be susceptible of 
exact regulation and since it will require but little improvement in present 
methods of contraception to enable man to exercise almost complete 
control over births. It is true, however, that many people have political, 
religious or personal scruples against limiting their families and that 
there are individuals mentally inferior and diseased who do not practice 
birth control because they have no interest either in their ability to pro- 
vide for their children or in the quality of their descendants. 

40 For discussion of child labor, see Chap. XV. 

[ 54 ] 


But if a continued decline in the birth rate is a desired end, it seems 
that the present mode of life can be little improved upon. The penaliza- 
tion of parenthood by various social and economic handicaps such as the 
lack of distinction in wages between those who bring up children and 
those who do not, the premium placed upon devotion to business, the 
exclusion of persons with children from many desirable apartments and 
houses, and many other factors which discriminate against the man and 
woman who devote any considerable time and energy to their children; 
the growing concentration of population in cities and the increasing 
apartment house and restaurant existence of city populations; the pity 
lavished by their more "emancipated sisters" upon women who rear 
families rather than devote themselves to business, lectures, travel and 
bridge; and the desperate struggle of many of the white collar workers 
to "keep up with the Joneses" all these encourage the restriction of 

If a larger and a more native population is wanted, the most helpful 
measures probably would be to continue present immigration restrictions 
and, at the same time, to make it economically easier to rear more chil- 
dren. Maternity allowances and tax exemptions graduated to the size of 
the family, not too stringent regulation of school attendance and child 
labor, preference in employment for fathers of families of the size deemed 
desirable, are the types of economic benefits which might be set up. The 
experience of France with similar measures has not been encouraging, 
but her efforts appear only half-hearted, since the economic burden upon 
parents of large families has not been greatly reduced. 

In addition, social attitudes toward the bearing and rearing of children 
are of great importance. Little is known as yet of methods by which these 
attitudes can be controlled; but if it could be made fashionable to have 
four to five children per family, the effect on the birth rate would probably 
be greater than that which could be secured in almost any other way. 

Improvement of Quality. A good many students of population, as 
well as the eugenists, are convinced that the differential birth rate, in 
addition to causing undesirable social effects, has already resulted in 
some deterioration in the biological soundness of the national stock. 
There is reason to believe that they exaggerate the biological conse- 
quences; nevertheless, it seems clear that no population policy can be 
considered comprehensive which does not take into account the fact that 
there are native differences between individuals and that as soon as any 
agreement can be reached about the methods by which "undesirables" 
can be selected from the population, they should be prevented from 
propagating. In the present state of knowledge there is bound to be 
violent disagreement as to those who are biologically "undesirable"; 
hence, progress in their elimination will be slow. But eugenic sterilization 

[ 55 1 


laws and the segregation of certain groups of the mentally incompetent 
are making headway; and a national population policy would be inade- 
quate which did not include plans for increasing the effectiveness of 
sound efforts to prevent births among the unfit. 41 

Those interested in improving the quality of the population are by 
no means satisfied with eliminating the unfit. They hold that it is also 
essential to encourage the increase of the "desirable." Important as this 
may be, it appears that little can be done about it at present. There is 
now the widest possible divergence of views regarding those who are 
desirable, how they are to be mated and how encouraged to raise families 
larger than the average. Suffice it to say that any general population 
policy should make provision for sufficient biological education to insure 
appreciation of the problems involved in mating and sufficient civic educa- 
tion to make people appreciate the importance of participating in the 
continuing life of the community through their children. Any positive 
encouragement of good stock beyond such education and the equalization 
of economic conditions between those who do and those who do not raise 
families, seems inadvisable until more is known about the inheritance of 
human traits. 

The population policy of the future will have to be woven out of these 
factors and others now unforeseen and will have to be determined in the 
give and take of everyday life, as is the case with other important national 
policies. It is not likely that the best possible policy will be hit upon at 
once, but this should not deter the nation from making a conscious and 
determined effort to control population growth, both quantitative and 
qualitative. The quantitative goal may well be to adjust numbers to 
national means so that a high standard of living can be maintained and 
the qualitative goal to forestall the increase of undesirable stock and 
stimulate that of desirable stock within the quantitative limits. 


The growth of population in the United States has been great and 
continuous. The decennial rate of increase, however, has been declining 
since about 1860 and the annual increase in numbers has fallen steadily 
and rapidly since 1923. 

For more than a century prior to 1930 the white race was growing 
faster than the Negro and until 1920 constituted a steadily increasing 
proportion of the nation's population. From 1920 to 1930, however, the 
colored races as a whole (including the Mexican) increased somewhat 
faster than the white race. The foreign born white population, which had 
remained a fairly constant proportion of the total for several decades, 

41 On sterilization laws in the several states, see Chap. XXIV. 

[ 56 ] 


has shown almost no numerical growth since 1910 and constitutes a 
declining proportion of the total. 

In recent decades a large part of the increase in population has 
gone to the cities or their suburbs. There has been a total increase 
of only about four millions in the rural population since 1910 and 
nearly all of this is found in the non-farm rural group. The farm 
population actually decreased by about one and one-fourth millions 
between 1920 and 1930. 

The places of most rapid growth in the United States from 1920 to 
1930 are those metropolitan districts where commerce and industry have 
grown rapidly, and Florida and California where the mild climate has 
proved a strong attraction. 

Until the World War our white population was becoming increasingly 
diversified in national origins, the proportions from Italy, Russia, Poland, 
Czechoslovakia and Mexico increasing rapidly between 1900 and 1915. 
Since 1921 the quota laws have not only diminished immigration in 
amount but have so altered its character that the white population bids 
fair to remain relatively unchanged in national origins in the future or to 
consist of a slowly increasing proportion from northern and western 

One of the most important trends in our growth is toward an older 
population with a decline in the proportion of persons under 20. This 
arises in part from the restriction of immigration and in part from the 
fact that the total number of births has declined in recent years while the 
number of persons in the older groups is rising rapidly due to the large 
increases in the number of births in the nineteenth century. As a con- 
sequence there will be almost a 50 percent increase in the proportion of 
persons over 65 during the next twenty years and about a 25 percent 
increase in the proportion 45-64. The proportion in the most productive 
ages will increase slightly. Such age changes are likely to produce signifi- 
cant consequences in our schools, in our business, in our politics and in 
our social structure. 

The growth of population in the future is certain to be much slower 
than in the past. Although death rates have fallen somewhat, particularly 
at younger ages, these savings have been much more than offset by 
decreases in birth rates. Decreases have been much larger in the later 
part of the childbearing period than the earlier part, among foreign born 
white women than among native white or Negro women and in rural than 
in urban areas. The continuation of these trends together with the restric- 
tion of immigration will result in a net addition to the population from 
1930 to 1950 of about the same size as that from 1920 to 1930. After 
1950 growth will be slower. It is even possible that the population will 
begin to decline after reaching approximately 146,000,000 in 1970. 

[ 57 1 


An increasing number of persons believe that the time has come to 
consider carefully a policy for the future. They believe that population 
growth should be consciously controlled in the interests of all the people. 
This will mean an effort to adjust numbers to the means available for 
their support so that a high standard of living can be maintained. It 
will also involve more careful selection of immigrants, the development of 
means of preventing the propagation of "the unfit" and in time, perhaps, 
methods for encouraging the propagation of "the fit" to the end that the 
quality of the stock may be improved. 




FROM problems of population the study of social trends turns to 
those of the utilization of natural wealth the ways in which we 
exploit our minerals, power resources and agricultural and forest 
lands, with their effect upon American standards of life. Here we shall 
note that population changes have already affected the condition and 
outlook of agriculture, and that technological improvements have made 
profound alterations in the efficiency with which we use land, minerals 
and power. 

The abundance and richness of natural resources have helped to 
shape the pattern of American culture since colonial times. Their social 
effects have been most immediately registered in the economic life of the 
country and through it, in the national standard of living. Foreign 
observers from de Tocqueville to Andre Siegfried have remarked upon the 
rich resources of the American continent and it is generally agreed that 
the high productivity of our population and the high per capita consump- 
tion which it makes possible have been facilitated by an exceptionally 
generous natural endowment. 

In an effort to state more clearly the place of natural resources in the 
American economic system the authors have compared the physical 
heritage of the United States with that of other countries, particularly 
those in western Europe, and have shown how often the high productivity 
of the American worker is correlated with some natural advantage. 
Sometimes the advantage is one of quality, as in the coal and copper 
mines. Sometimes it is one of quantity, as in the more opulent ratio 
of agricultural land to population which prevails in the United States. 
This study of resources and productivity, however, has proved too long to 
be included here. 

In the present chapter, therefore, it will be assumed that wealth of 
resources is a national advantage with no attempt to evaluate that 
advantage. Our concern will rather be with the trends of utilization and 
with the adequacy of the resources to meet the needs of the present 
and the calculable future. Men are prone to think of resources as some- 



thing fixed. In point of fact they change, though slowly. The minerals are 
gradually exhausted; the fisheries may decline; the virgin stand of timber 
disappears in time; the soils are being depleted, or perhaps more signifi- 
cant, the ratio of population to the land available may change. How far, 
then, is our original endowment dissipated, and what are the prospects 
for the future? Can the limited resources of fuel and metal continue to 
meet the burden of an increasing demand? Will there be land enough to 
feed our people, or is population destined to press harder on the means of 
subsistence ? The nation is passing out of the pioneer stage of exploitation. 
Does the transition cast a shadow on the future? And how is American 
society adjusting itself to the change? 


American economic life has been characterized by a rapid increase in 
the consumption of the earth materials until the United States has come 
to use metal and power on a scale attained by no other country. From 
1860 to 1913 the population increased threefold while production of pig 
iron increased 38 fold; of coal 39 fold; of the total mineral fuels 44 fold; 
and of copper 76 fold. In fact, consumption in the twenty years ending 
1929 was greater by far than in the entire three hundred from the landing 
of Captain John Smith in 1607 to the Jamestown Exposition. The rate 
of increase has slowed down since the war and there is reason to think 
that it will be less rapid in the future, but discussion of this point can best 
be postponed to a later section. Here it is enough to note that in the min- 
eral fuels, in iron and in the non-ferrous metals, our per capita consump- 
tion is far higher than that of the highly industrialized United Kingdom. 
It is twice or thrice that of France and Germany and five or ten times 
that of Italy and Spain. 

Growth of Mining Compared to Agriculture, Manufactures and Trans- 
port. While all branches of business have tended to grow rapidly in the 
United States, the mineral industries have developed faster than any 
other major division, far outstripping agriculture and exceeding even the 
growth of manufactures and rail transport. The broad changes are 
summarized in Table 1. From 1899 to 1929 population increased 62 
percent. Agricultural production expanded in slightly less degree, the 
increase amounting to about 48 percent. (See Table 1, footnote a.) The 
physical volume of manufactures, on the other hand, increased 210 
percent. The volume of railroad freight handled advanced still more. 
But the volume of mineral production nearly quadrupled, the increase in 
the 30 year period amounting to 286 percent. 

The growth of mining furnished the sinews of power and metal 
necessary for the expansion of other forms of industry. The contribution 
of the mines is shown by the expanding use of power. The consumption of 

[ 60 1 


raw energy increased 230 percent during the period. This figure, however, 
does not give the full measure of the expansion of power, because it takes 
no account of the great improvements in efficiency of fuel utilization 
which marked the period. Thus the increase in the power equipment of the 
country installed horse power of all types except passenger automobiles 
was 536 percent. If passenger automobiles are included, the growth of 
power equipment is found to be 2,510 percent. The figures of horse power 
have to be discounted with some regard to the low use factor characteristic 
of many types of prime movers, especially of automobiles. The increase in 
the amount of power actually generated cannot be measured precisely, but 
it evidently lies somewhere between the 230 percent shown by the 
consumption of energy materials and the 2,510 percent shown by the 
installed horse power. In either case, it is clear that the use of power and of 
heat energy in the United States has expanded in the last generation in 
greater ratio than the production of goods. 1 This simple fact throws a 
flood of light on the increase in output per worker so characteristic of 
the period. 



Index in 1899 

Index in 1929 




Physical volume of production: 



Manufactures 6 
Transportation, railroad ton miles 






Energy consumption (mineral fuels and water power)"* 



Horse power equipment:* 
Excluding all automobiles 





Including all automobiles 


2 610 

Index of O. E. Baker, Bureau of Agricultural Economics. Includes animal products, plant foodstuffs, and 
industrial crops. Base equals the average for the five years 1897 to 1901, centering on 1899. Value shown for 
1929 represents the average for the five years 1927 to 1931. The base period, 1897-1901, was one of exceptional 
opulence. In these years the ratio of agricultural production to population was the highest in the nation's 
history; exports of farm products were also the largest. 

6 Index of Edmund E. Day and Woodlief Thomas extended through 1929 by reference to Federal Reserve 
Board Index. 

e Index of Harvard Committee on Economic Research extended through 1929 by reference to Federal 
Reserve Board index. 

d F. G. Tryon, "An Index of Consumption of Fuels and Water Power," Journal of the American Statistical 
Association, September 1927, vol. 22, p. 282. 

U. S. Geological Survey, C. R. Daugherty, The Development of Horsepower Equipment in the United States, 
Water Supply Paper 579, pp. 11, 45. Dr. Daugherty has computed the values for 1929 for the use of the Presi- 
dent's Committee and permits them to be included here in advance of other publication. 

Compare with Chap. V. 




400 L & GYPSUM 

FIG. 1. Index number of growth of production of the principal minerals and water power, 


As a group, production of the minerals has been increasing very rapidly, far outstripping the growth of 
population. There are, however, signs of retardation in the rate of growth of some of the most important min- 
erals, such as bituminous coal and pig iron and an actual decline in production of anthracite, gold, and silver. 
For the group as a whole, the outlook is for continued increase, but at a gradually diminishing rate. 

Based on data in annual reports in Mineral Resources of the United States except for natural gas, water 
power, and total energy, which are based on original studies by F. G. Tryon. 


Signs of Slackening Growth. It is inconceivable that the geometric 
increase which characterized the consumption of minerals up to the World 
War could continue indefinitely, and to the careful observer there are 
already signs of diminution in the rate of growth. Production of some of 
the minerals, however, continues to increase rapidly. (Figure 1.) Con- 
spicuous among this group are oil, gas and sulphur. A few others, such as 
gold, silver and anthracite, show an actual decline. 2 Still others, though 
not past the stage of growth, show very definite retardation. Thus the 
growth of bituminous coal has been checked by the competition of other 
sources of power and by advances in fuel efficiency, while the growth of 
virgin pig iron is slowed down by economies in use and by the increasing 
employment of scrap. 

That the tendencies thus noted in coal and iron will later appear in 
the other minerals seems only a matter of time. For the group as a whole, 
the prospect is one of increase, but at a diminishing rate. The tendencies 
are strengthened by the impending changes in population growth dis- 
cussed in the preceding chapter. While per capita consumption has greatly 
expanded and will doubtless expand still further, no small part of the 
aggregate increase has been due to the simple fact of population growth, 
and the change from increasing to stationary or declining numbers, which 
statisticians now forecast, will modify the demand for the minerals. 

Such a slowing down of the former growth of demand accentuates the 
troublesome problem of production control, which is so clearly illustrated 
by the present position of coal mining. From the long time viewpoint 
of conservation, however, it is a hopeful sign, for the greatest of all social 
problems in the use of the minerals is how to reconcile an insistent demand 
with the obvious limitations of reserves. 


Up to the present the necessary increments of metal and of power 
have been supplied to American industry at decreasing cost. This result 
has been attained in spite of the growing difficulties of mining caused by 
depletion of the richer deposits. 

When the nation began to be conscious, about the turn of the century, 
that the minerals were not inexhaustible, public apprehension took the 
form of imagining what it would be like to have no coal or no metal. Then, 
when no shortage developed and there came instead a period of over- 
production, a reaction set in, expressed in the idea that the cry of con- 
servation had been a cry of "Wolf!". It is now clear that the problem 
of conservation of the minerals is not absolute exhaustion at some distant 

2 The sharp decline of gold production after 1915 was, of course, due in large measure 
to the inflation accompanying the World War and the resulting advance in commodity 
prices and wages. Similarly, the decline of silver production is largely due to changes in 
currency systems. 

[ 63 1 


date but rather increasing cost in the near future through the growing 
difficulties of mining. We need not fear that mineral species may become 
extinct as the passenger pigeon did. The danger that confronts us is 
rather a handicap resulting from exhaustion of the more accessible de- 
posits and the consequent tendency toward diminishing returns and 
higher prices. 

The Struggle against Increasing Costs. The history of mineral 
exploitation is a record of a struggle against increasing natural diffi- 
culties. It is a commonplace that the richer and more accessible of the 
known deposits are attacked first. As these are exhausted, operations 
proceed to poorer and less accessible deposits, and the physical conditions 
become progressively more difficult. For a while these may be offset by 
more efficient management, but there comes a time when with the best 
of management the old mine cannot compete. What happens to a single 
mine happens also in time to an entire district. For a while operators 
move on to new locations in the same field, little, if any, inferior to the 
first. But at length the easier locations have been used up and subsequent 
operations must be in leaner ores and thinner beds at greater depth. 
Discovery of new bodies of rich ore may interrupt the process, but other- 
wise the natural obstacles increase year by year, and in time the whole 
district finds itself in the stage of increasing costs. That is the ultimate 
fate of mining enterprise. 

The anthracite district of Pennsylvania is an excellent example of 
this tendency. Mining has been going on there for 125 years and the 
reserves are sufficient to last for another 125 at the present rate of pro- 
duction. The district has therefore entered the stage of maturity in the 
production cycle and natural conditions have been growing steadily 
more difficult for the last half century. The average thickness of the 
beds has fallen, the depth has greatly increased and, what is even more 
serious, many of the collieries have passed from first mining to second or 
even third mining of pillars and stumps. These increasing difficulties have 
swallowed up all of the economies due to advances in mining methods and 
equipment (which have been notable in the anthracite mines), and the 
output per man per day is actually less than it was a generation ago. 3 
Production costs are increasing and this handicaps the industry in com- 
peting with other fuels. 

This ominous record of steadily growing difficulties reflected in in- 
creasing costs can be matched in thousands of individual mines and 
scores of districts around the world. In England the condition is general 
and no small part of the present economic troubles of the British is due 
to the unequal competition between a land in the stage of increasing 

3 D. C. Ashmead, series of eight articles on the increasing difficulty of mining anthracite, 
Coal Age, 1923, vol. 23, p. 323 f., 475 f., 551 f ., 749 f., 850 f., 885 f., 999 f., and 1041 f. 

f 64 1 


costs of mining and n.ewer lands where costs are still being reduced. The 
tendency of natural conditions to grow more difficult is universal, but 
it is often counterbalanced by other tendencies in the opposite direction 
the discovery of new deposits, the expansion of transport which opens up 
deposits hitherto inaccessible, and the improvement of technology. 
Mineral economics is the record of a battle, a battle between the growing 
difficulties of nature on the one hand and discovery, transport and tech- 
nology on the other. How does the battle fare? Taking the country as a 
whole, which side is winning, the natural conditions tending to increase 
costs or the man directed forces tending to reduce them ? 

Discovery of New Deposits. First among the factors offsetting the 
tendency toward diminishing returns is the discovery of new deposits. 
In the United States the factor of discovery was exceedingly influential 
during the nineteenth century, and to it the increasing supply of minerals 
was largely due. As in other countries, the period of maximum activity 
in exploration followed on the heels of settlement. The wave of discovery 
reached its crest in the thirty years following the California gold rush 
and by the end of the century the great finds possible through surface 
prospecting had largely been made. 

Among the metals, no prizes comparable with Butte or the Comstock 
Lode have been found in the continental United States in the last quarter 
century. In almost every district, applied geology has developed large 
additions to the reserves, but the original discovery was made by a 
bearded prospector equipped with pick and burro. Of the 33 leading dis- 
tricts producing gold, silver, copper, lead, zinc and even iron, only 5 have 
been found since 1900 and none at all since 1907. In Europe and Austral- 
asia, also, the day of brilliant success in surface prospecting seems over. 
In just two regions of the world is anything like the wave of discoveries 
which followed the California gold rush now going on in Africa, espe- 
cially Rhodesia and the Congo, and in northern Canada. 

Discovery, however, continues to make large contributions to the 
supply of those minerals which the old time prospector could not see or 
whose value he did not know. Economic geology has developed elaborate 
techniques in the search for oil and gas and discoveries of new pools have 
followed one another with embarrassing frequency. Most of the bauxite 
of the south has been blocked out since 1900. New beds of sulphur have 
been found in the salt domes of the Gulf Coast. The world's richest borax 
deposits were discovered largely by accident in 1913 and 1927. Supplies 
of helium gas were first located in volume after the war and the last 
three years have witnessed the discovery of potash deposits in the south- 
west which may prove among the great mineral prizes of the world. 

The character of the recent finds illustrates both the possibilities 
and the limitations of discovery in the future. The things of obvious 

[ 65 1 


value which outcrop on the surface have probably been found. The chance 
of stumbling on more Buttes and Cripple Creeks is small. The search for 
minerals must now be organized on a, large and costly scale. Even applied 
geology is fast exhausting the easy possibilities of surface prospecting 
and future rewards of organized search depend largely on the develop- 
ment of new methods for locating supplies which give no surface expres- 
sion of their presence. A new science of geophysical or subsurface 
prospecting, relying on delicate electrical and physical instruments, 
offers possibilities. In the search for oil, gas and sulphur on the Gulf 
Coast the new methods have yielded striking successes. Elsewhere they 
have hardly passed the experimental stage. It seems likely that the cost 
of exploration will increase and that future discoveries will consist more 
in the extension of the boundaries of known deposits than in the location 
of new ones. The nineteenth century was the age of dazzling discovery; 
in the twentieth the battle against increasing costs must fall more heavily 
upon the factors of transport and technology. 

Expansion of Transport Facilities. The second offsetting factor in 
the battle against increasing costs is transportation which frequently 
brings into use deposits already known but hitherto inaccessible. The 
classic example is the opening of the transcontinental railroads. Many 
of the western mining districts, first worked for placer gold, were known 
to contain the baser metals, but not until rail transport was provided 
could large scale exploitation of them begin. With rail connections estab- 
lished after 1870, a stream of non-ferrous metal poured upon the markets 
of the world, the effects of which are clearly apparent in contemporary 
records of increasing production and declining price. Many low grade 
deposits exist today, awaiting the coming of the railway to give them 
value. As late as 1914 when roads like the Louisville and Nashville and 
Chesapeake and Ohio pushed their way through the southern mountains 
they opened up coal fields known to exist but previously inaccessible. 
Canal and river transport on the other hand have had little effect on 
availability of minerals in the United States, with the notable exception 
of the Panama Canal, the completion of which made accessible to the 
east the great supplies of petroleum in California; indeed, the unfore- 
seen development of the traffic in oil has provided the canal's largest 
source of revenue. Electric transmission is not ordinarily thought of as a 
form of transport but the rise of high tension transmission lines is in 
fact a means of utilizing remote resources of water power and in some 
instances of fuel as well. 

In our own time the growth of automotive transport is acting to 
increase available supplies of minerals although on a much smaller scale 
than was characteristic of the railroads. Better roads and cheaper trucks 
make available scattered deposits too small to justify rail construction. 



Even low value materials, such as coal, now move distances as great as 
100 miles by truck. 

One of the most striking examples of expansion of transport in recent 
years is the growth of long distance pipe lines. Reductions in the cost of 
manufacturing and laying pipe are the immediate cause of the spectacular 
growth. Trunk pipe lines originating in the southwest now extend more 
than a thousand miles to the industrial centers of the upper Mississippi 
Valley. This development makes available enormous amounts of natural 
gas, the existence of which was known but for which no adequate outlet 
was at hand. 

Advance of Mining Technology. As the earth's surface is prospected 
and the network of primary transport facilities is pushed nearer to com- 
pletion, the potential help of discovery and transportation in cost reduc- 
tion become less and the burden of overcoming the increasing difficulties 
of mining falls more and more upon technology. Both discovery and 
transport have been less active in the twentieth century while technologic 
advance has proceeded at a pace which was never more rapid than at the 
present time. Technology has affected the supply of minerals both by 
advances in the art of mining and by increasing the efficiency of utiliza- 
tion which sometimes comes through economies in the recovery and use 
of by-products and sometimes through the development of substitutes. 

Mechanization of the Mines. Running through all branches of mining 
is the tendency to replace hand by machine labor. It can be most clearly 
illustrated by reference to the coal mines. Steam and compressed air 
have given way to electric power. Haulage underground is largely elec- 
trified and even in the gathering of single cars in rooms the mine mule is 
rapidly yielding to the faster and more powerful electric locomotive. 
Use of the cutting machine has almost entirely displaced the old time hand 
methods by which the miner undercut the seam, and even the cheap 
though wasteful and dangerous method of "shooting off the solid" is 
giving way, so that 80 percent of the underground tonnage is now cut 
mechanically. In another major task of the miner, the drilling of shot 
holes, portable electric drills are being used. Until recently the back 
breaking labor of shoveling the coal from the floor to the mine car resisted 
all efforts at mechanization. This last stand of heavy labor is now yielding. 
Machines in great variety loading machines, power shovels, scrapers, 
"duckbills" and moving conveyors are available for this task, and from 
1,880,000 tons in 1923 the tonnage mechanically loaded has risen to 
47,000,000 in 1930, with further rapid increase assured. The progress of 
mechanization underground is paralleled by the advances in open pit 
mining on the surface, where huge power shovels with a capacity of 15 
yards to the bite now handle an overburden of 60 feet of dirt and rock 
to win a 6 foot seam of coal. 

[ 67 ] 


Mass Mining of Low Grade Ores. Parallel to mechanization have been 
advances in the art of handling ground, the peculiar province of the 
mining engineer. These are best illustrated in metal mining, particularly 
the outstanding change from the carefully selective mining of the early 
days to the mass methods now applied to the large low grade deposits of 
the west. Julihn 4 shows that until recently an essential part of the skilled 
miner's task was to select the valuable ore from the waste, carefully pick- 
ing out the pieces of high value and discarding the refuse. A good miner 
was "conscientious." His skill lay largely in his ability to discriminate 
between the high grade, valuable material and the inferior. The transition 
from this older selective mining to the mass methods whereby all the 
material in the mineralized area is removed, waste as well as ore, and the 
sorting and cleaning are done on the surface, constitutes a major change in 
the art of mining. Giant open cuts have come into use; below ground, 
methods of caving and handling large blocks of ground have been devel- 
oped and the economies thus effected in mining itself far offset the extra 
work of eliminating waste matter in cleaning plants on the surface. 

Beneficiation of Crude Mineral. These advances in underground 
technology, especially mass mining of metallic ores and mechanical load- 
ing of coal, were made possible by parallel advances on the surface which 
facilitated the separation of valuable minerals from waste. At the coal 
mines systems of mechanical cleaning have developed, such as the shaker 
screen, new methods of washing out the impurities with water, and 
pneumatic cleaning. 

In metal mining the advances have been revolutionary. Shaking 
tables of the Wilfley type permit the sorting of fine material by gravity. 
The ingenious process of flotation has made possible the separation of 
valuable material from refuse with uncanny precision and completeness. 
By these methods great amounts of metal, particularly lead and zinc, are 
now recovered which were formerly lost simply through inability to 
separate them. The waste of metal in the refuse is reduced to insignif- 
icance. So efficient are these processes that they permit the treating of 
ores formerly considered far too lean for profitable operation, and in this 
way they have encouraged the mass methods of mining already discussed. 
The development of the famous porphyry coppers is due quite as much 
to flotation as to the steam shovel and underground caving systems. 
Parallel advances have occurred in the technology of other minerals, 
especially of oil and gas. 

Increasing Output per Mine Worker. The average output per man 
registers the net result of this battle of natural difficulties and man di- 
rected forces. As long as each man's labor obtains increasing amounts of 

4 American Institute of Mining Engineers, Mineral Economics, C. E. Julihn, "Copper: 
An Example of Advancing Technology," Ch. VI, New York, 1932, p. 127-132. 

[ 68 ] 


mineral, technology and its allies are winning over the handicaps of 
nature, and costs are declining. On the other hand, if the output per 
worker is falling, the natural difficulties are winning and costs are tending 
to increase. Figure 2 sums up the record in nine typical branches of the 
mineral industry for the years since 1860, a period great enough to dis- 
close the long time trend. In the anthracite mines, as already noted, the 
natural difficulties appear to have the best of it. The advances of tech- 
nology suggested by the increasing horsepower per worker have been 
offset by growing physical handicaps, and the output per man has shown 
no increase since the turn of the century. The mercury mines, which have 
reached an advanced stage of depletion, show the same condition. Up 
to 1909 the output per man was apparently rising, but over the last 
twenty years it has consistently declined. Mercury mining is a tiny indus- 
try, and its diminished productivity has a negligible effect on the national 
standard of living. Anthracite mining, on the other hand, is a major 
industry. It employs 150,000 men and in value of product it equals all 
our gold, silver, lead, zinc and aluminum, with half of our copper thrown 
in for good measure. 5 

Fortunately the productivity in other minerals shows a very large 
gain. In all of the instances selected, the advance of technology is proved 
by an increase in the horsepower used per man. But it must be remem- 
bered that the period since 1860 was also one in which the factors of 
exploration and of transport were exceptionally active. Thus it is that 
productivity in iron mining reveals a sudden increase through the dis- 
covery of the Mesabi range in 1890. Productivity in copper leaps upward 
soon after 1870 when the completion of the transcontinental railroads 
opened the metal camps of the west to active exploitation. The rise in 
productivity of sulphur mining reflects the invention in 1903 of the Frasch 
process, supplemented by discoveries of additional deposits on the Gulf 

In general, all of the mineral industries where the pinch of increasing 
natural handicaps is not yet serious show particularly rapid increases in 
productivity in the last decade. In copper, iron ore, phosphate rock and 
gypsum productivity has nearly doubled since the World War. In bi- 
tuminous coal, the largest of the mineral industries, the record is one of 
steady increase. Output per man per year was rising from 1840 to 1890. 
In 1890 begins the more accurate record of output per man per day; from 
2.56 net tons in that year it has climbed to 5.06 in 1930, an increase of 
practically 100 percent in the 40 years. 

The data on output per worker in the oil and gas industry require a 
word of explanation. It is difficult to get accurate statistics of the number 
of men engaged in producing oil and gas and the record given here has 

6 Average for 1927-1930. 



been pieced together after consideration of data from a number of scat- 
tered sources. The result is far from precise but it will serve to indicate 
the trend. It shows that in this second largest of all mineral industries 
the production per man is still increasing. The conclusion is especially 
significant in view of the fears often expressed of a pending exhaustion 
of petroleum supplies. It is clear that up to the present, technology and 
discovery of new pools have more than offset exhaustion and that one 
man's labor captures more liquid fuel than it did thirty years ago. 



Net tons per mon 



i i 


Net tons per man 




on B 


r u pe 



man -year. 
























r> < 

' 1 


> c 

S S 


sill i i 

\ : 

n - S 
2 i 

I 8 o 8 2 j 
> S S S 222' 

fill 1 i 

\ i 1 


Pounds per mon-year 



\ \ 



g tons per mon -ye 



Flasks per man-year 















. * 


5 S g S S 8 2 J 
! 222! 

i i S SIS! 

I s i i 1 s 




iq tons per man-yec 
.Tudes equ valent o 
Sulphur in Pyrite 



Long tons per man-year 




g tons per mon-ye 















J S 

1 * 

ills I 2 * { 

1 g S 8 8 2 

| 1 i 

8 8 2 S 

> oo o CT> a> a. 

FIG. 2. Trend of output per worker in the mines of the United States. 
In the mining of anthracite and mercury, the increasing difficulties of mining have in recent years caused 
a decline in the output per worker. In the case of the other minerals shown, discovery of new deposits, expansion 
of transport, and advances in technology have more than offset the handicaps of nature, and the output per 
worker is increasing. 

Technical Advances in Consumption. At the same time that engi- 
neering advances have taken place in production, technology has been at 
work in the industries utilizing the raw material and economies in con- 
sumption have helped to offset the steady depletion of the richer deposits. 
The lines of attack have included the development of substitutes, illus- 
trated by the use of aluminum instead of tin in collapsible tubes, and by 
replacement of mineral nitrate from Chile with synthetic products derived 

[ 70 1 


from atmospheric nitrogen. Notable progress has been made in recovery 
of by-products, best seen perhaps in the rise of the by-product coke oven 
and the virtual elimination of the wasteful beehive oven. 6 Most significant 
of all from the point of view of conservation and ultimate cost to the 
consumer are improvements which reduce the consumption of mineral 
per unit of product. Here the outstanding example is the increasing 
efficiency in the use of the mineral fuels. 7 The idea of fuel economy is not 
new but in our time it has become an organized movement with far 
reaching results. In the United States, the movement dates from about 
1909 and it was stimulated by the high prices of fuel associated with the 
World War. The most spectacular savings were made by the central 
electric stations. Caught between the rising price of coal and the fixed 
prices of their product, fuel economy became their salvation: the route 
to promotion was seen to lead through the boiler room and the best 
brains of the electrical industry were devoted to squeezing more and 
more kilowatt hours out of the ton of coal. Parallel if less striking advances 
were made in other industries. For the twenty years from 1909 to 1929 
the percentage of reduction in the average consumption of energy per 
unit of product was as follows : 8 

Electric public utility power plants (pounds fuel per kilowatt hour) ... 66 

Steam railroads (pounds per transportation unit) 47 

Petroleum refining (energy consumed, excluding by-product refinery 

gas, per barrel of crude) 36 

Iron furnaces, steel works, and rolling mills (coal, oil, and purchased 

power excluding natural gas per ton of product) . 25 

Cement mills (fuel and purchased power per barrel of product) 21 

All other manufacturing (energy consumed per unit of product) 21 

All industries and railroads combined, approximately 33 

The savings are due not so much to revolutionary inventions like those 
of Watt and Neilson as to the cumulative effect of many small advances. 
In large part they represent a process of education, a general application 
of methods already in use in the most efficient plants. Taking all of the 
economies together, it seems clear that fuel efficiency has advanced faster 
during the last twenty years than in any equal period of the world's 
history, with the single exception of the years immediately following 
Watt's improvement of the steam engine. 9 

6 In 1930 over 94 percent of the coke produced came from by-product ovens. 

7 Corresponding economies have been effected in consumption of the metals such as the 
development of alloys with superior resistance to corrosion, or possessing qualities that 
permit the use of smaller quantities of metal to perform the same work. 

8 Tryon, F. G., and Rogers, H. O., "Statistical Studies of Progress in Fuel Efficiency," 
Transactions, Second World Power Conference, Berlin, 1930, vol. VI, p. 360. 

9 Ibid., pp. 360-363. 


In the meantime corresponding developments have occurred in the 
field of motor fuels, the most important of which are the synthesis of 
alcohols and gasoline-like oil from coal. Recent discoveries of French and 
German chemists have made it clear that given sufficiently high prices 
and plenty of raw coal, the technical men can produce the world's motor 
fuel and lubricants. 

To indicate the steps by which these advances in utilization were 
effected is beyond the limits of a thumbnail sketch. The economies in use 
have effected conservation of a very practical kind. They have lengthened 
by centuries the prospective life of our mineral reserves. Reinforcing 
advances in the technique of mining and metallurgy, they help in the 
battle against the increasing difficulties of nature. 

Rise of Water Power. The brilliant achievements of the European 
chemists in devising ways of making oil from coal do not solve the prob- 
lem of how to get along without mineral fuel. They merely indicate that 
when supplies of oil begin to fail the burden now carried by petroleum 
will fall back upon coal. Some day when men have used up the bonus of 
fossil fuel, they will have to learn to balance their energy budgets by 
collecting each year from the inexhaustible sources of water, wind and 
sun as much power as they expend. 

Notable progress in the harnessing of these resources has been made 
in recent years. High prices of fuel during the war stimulated interest in 
water power all over the world. In the United States the tendency was 
facilitated by the passage in 1920 of the federal Water Power Act, ending 
a deadlock of long standing and opening water power sites on navigable 
streams to development under federal license. It is true that the progress 
of fuel economy tends to cheapen the cost of steam power, and this acts 
to limit the development of water power, but this influence has been more 
than offset by the expanding market for water power afforded by the 
"superpower" movement. Formerly the market for hydro was limited to 
the requirements in the vicinity of the site unless the promoters con- 
structed their own transmission lines to distant markets. Even then, the 
property often had to pass through a long period of waiting before demand 
caught up with the installed capacity. The rise of interconnected electrical 
systems provided a much larger and more diversified market; it brought 
the market nearer to the water power, thereby cutting down investments 
in new transmission lines; and it reduced or eliminated the need 
of auxiliary steam plants. The combination of these factors has thus 
far more than offset the competition of fuel power made cheaper 
by declining prices of fuel and by fuel efficiency. The result is a rapid 
increase in the installed capacity of water power. (Table 2.) The com- 
pletion of Hoover Dam will add another 1,200,000 horse power to the 
total developed. 

[ 72 1 




Capacity of 
horse power, 
end of year 

increase over 
preceding date 


Capacity of 
horse power, 
end of year 

increase over 
preceding date 





384 000 


1 250 000 

10 000 


7 800 000 

332 000 


1 300 000 

5 000 


2 050 000 

58 000 


11 180 000 

676 000 


14 885 000 

742 000 



271 000 

From records of U. S. Geological Survey; see especially R. W. Davenport, "Growth of Water Power 
Development in the United States," in Power Capacity and Production in the United States, Water Supply Paper 

The 14,885,000 horse power utilized up to the end of 1930 may be 
compared with the total potential of 38,000,000 horse power, as estimated 
by the United States Geological Survey. Thus less than 40 percent of 
the potential water power resources have been developed. The Survey's 
estimates are conservative and systematic construction of storage dams 
would greatly increase the potential power, perhaps multiplying it several 
fold. Encouraging as is the increase in developed power from the view- 
point of conservation, it goes only a little way toward meeting the total 
energy requirements of the United States. Water power does furnish 40 
percent of the electricity generated by the public utilities but only 7 per- 
cent of the total energy consumption of the country, including that used 
in the form of heat. 

Other Inexhaustible Energy Sources. There is little recent progress 
to record in the utilization of the other inexhaustible sources of power. 
A decade of speculation on the fascinating idea of atomic energy finds 
physicists skeptical of proposals to harness it and leaves the impression 
that the power of the future must be obtained directly or indirectly from 
the sun. 10 The use of windmills is declining. Power from the tides lies 
still in the future although an 80,000 horsepower project at Passama- 
quoddy Bay is now before the Federal Power Commission. Solar motors 
and Claude's experiments with the warm waters of the tropics have 
served chiefly to emphasize the low grade character of these resources. 
Like the low grade iron and aluminum which together make up 10 percent 
of the crust of the earth, the low grade energy resources exist in stupen- 

10 Millikan, Robert A., "Available Energy": "The energy available . . . through the 
disintegration of radioactive, or any other, atoms may perhaps be sufficient to keep the 
corner peanut and pop-corn man going, on a few street corners in our larger towns for a 
long time yet to come, but that is all ... The energy supply to man in the past has been 
obtained wholly from the sun, and a billion years hence he will, I think, be supplying all 
his needs for light, and warmth, and power entirely from the sun." Science, September 28, 
1928, vol. 68, no. 1761, p. 279. 

[ 73 ] 


dous amounts, but by any techniques now known are available only at 
prices far above what we are accustomed to pay. 

Accumulation of Metal Stocks. The technical advances in utilization 
of the minerals thus far referred to have dealt chiefly with the fuels. In 
the field of the metals an outstanding development is the accumulation of 
a working capital of metal which passes first into finished goods and then 
comes back in the form of scrap. 

The growth of this revolving fund of metal is one of the curious and 
outstanding phenomena of the mineral industries. Numerous raw 
materials of vegetable and animal origin are salvaged and used again, but 
the life span between original use and ultimate destruction of such 
materials as paper and rubber is characteristically short, whereas that of 
the more durable metals is characteristically long. As Bain points out, it 
is probable that some of the gold now in the vaults of the Treasury was 
mined in the days of the Caesars. 11 

With the rapid increase in the volume of virgin metal flowing into the 
channels of trade, the world's stock is built up at a surprising rate. 
As the stock increases, the tonnage of secondary or scrap metal which is 
reclaimed and returned to industry increases also. The accumulation has 
given rise to a large industry built up around the collection, classification 
and resmelting of scrap metal. The annual value of the secondary non- 
ferrous metals is $330,000,000. 12 The annual value of the scrap iron and 
steel is not known but it very possibly equals that of the non-ferrous 
material. The stock of secondary material modifies the demand for the 
primary metal, it adds to the bargaining power of the large consumers who 
are also the largest producers of scrap, and thereby helps to stabilize 

Our records of the quantity of secondary metal recovered are based 
on the work of J. P. Dunlop and date from about 1911. In the years since 
then, the recoveries of scrap have increased much more rapidly than the 
production of virgin metal. So far has the process gone that in 1926 the 
secondary material furnished 38 percent of the supply of aluminum, 35 
percent of the copper, 31 percent of the antimony, 28 percent of the tin, 
23 percent of the lead and 19 percent of the zinc. 13 

The same tendency is apparent in the iron and steel industry, where 
there has been a pronounced slackening of the growth of consumption of 
virgin pig iron. This does not mean that the American people are using 
less iron, for the consumption of steel and of finished rolled products, 
including iron as well as steel, is increasing much as before. The retarda- 

11 Mineral Economics, op. cit., H. Foster Bain, Ch. VIII, "The Rise of Scrap Metals," 
p. 161. 

12 U. S. Bureau of Mines, J. P. Dunlop, "Secondary Metals," Mineral Resources of the 
United States, 1928, Part I, Metals, p. 145 f. 

13 Based on calculations by A. B. Parsons; see Mineral Economics, op. cit., p. 169. 

[ 74 ] 


tion of the growth of virgin metal production is made possible by the 
rapid expansion of scrap. Thus it is that the consumption of virgin pig 
iron increased 135 percent from 1900-1904 to 1925-1929 while the con- 
sumption of finished rolled iron and steel (including the contributions of 
scrap) increased during the same period by 196 percent. 

The ultimate result of these tendencies seems clearly indicated. We 
are moving toward a position where the great bulk of the world's annual 
requirements of metal will be met from scrap. The demand for virgin 
metal will consist chiefly in replacing the annual loss through dissipating 
uses, wastage and corrosion. Obviously such a condition is far in the 
future, but the tendency is unmistakable and it suggests one of the ways 
by which modern society is adjusting itself to the increasing natural 
difficulties of mining. 

Resultant Decline in Mineral Prices. Having reviewed the forces 
tending to offset depletion, we are now in a position to sum up the net 
results of the battle against increasing costs. A practical test is the long 
time trend of prices. Price is the resultant of all of the factors and if 
mineral prices are falling in relation to the general commodity index, it is 
clear that the factors of discovery, transport and technology must be 
winning over the increasing difficulties of nature. 

Relative Prices of Metals and Fuels. Figure 3 traces the recent price 
history of some of the major minerals. To facilitate comparison all the 
prices are reduced to index numbers, the average for the decade preceding 
the World War being taken as 100. In 1930 and 1931 there has been a 
sharp decline in which the prices of minerals have fallen precipitately 
along with those of other commodities, but because of the difficulty of 
interpreting these abnormal years, no attempt is made to carry the data 
beyond 1929. In a few cases, such as Pennsylvania anthracite, prices of 
the minerals have been rising in relation to other commodities. Most of 
them, however, have been moving downward in relation to the general 
price level over the last century, and are continuing to do so. As a group 
the minerals have been growing cheaper through the years. 

Relative Prices of Power and Heat. Much the same tendency is shown 
by the trend of prices of power. Electricity in particular has been falling 
in price with respect to other commodities. In fact, the average price for 
lighting and domestic use has declined absolutely as well as relatively even 
since 1913. Prices of electricity for power increased during the war, but 
not as much as general commodity prices, and since then have been 

Our review of price trends indicates clearly that on balance technology 
and its allies have been winning over the growing natural difficulties of 
mining. Up to the present the increasing supplies of minerals demanded 
by American industry have been delivered at decreasing cost. 

[75 ] 






FIG. 3. The downward trend of mineral prices in relation to the general price level. 

To facilitate comparison, the unit prices of each mineral were first reduced to index numbers, the average 
for the years 1900-1909 being taken at 100.0. (Note that all the curves come together at that point.) The result- 
ing index for each mineral was then compared with the Bureau of Labor Statistics index of wholesale prices, 
recomputed to the same base. The diagram shows the percentage deviations above or below the all-commodity 

It is clear that except for anthracite, all the minerals shown have been moving downward in relation to the 
general price level. 

Calculated from price quotations assembled from various sources, partly from unpublished studies of John 
Alden Grimes. 

76 ] 




The fact that prices of minerals have been declining in relation to other 
commodities might seem to warrant dismissing all concern over future 
supplies in the United States, but if we search more closely we shall find 
tell tale symptoms of advancing age in some of the most vigorous of our 
mining industries, indicating that they, too, are traveling the road, 
already taken by anthracite and mercury, which ultimately leads to 
increasing costs. 

There are four major signs of age to be looked for: (1) an increase in 
the physical difficulties of mining; (2) the transition from exploitation of 
the precious metals to those of lower unit value; (3) a decline in exportable 
surplus or, conversely, an increasing dependence upon imports; and (4) 
a characteristic migration away from older fields nearing the stage of 
exhaustion to new fields, at first in the same country and later abroad. 
The first of these signs increasing difficulties of mining has already 
been pointed out in connection with the principle of increasing costs. Let 
us now apply the three remaining tests of advancing age. 

Transition from the Precious to the Base Metals. It is a common- 
place of mining history that gold is the first mineral to be sought in a new 
country. It remained for de Launay to observe that other minerals are 
attacked successively in descending order of unit price. First to follow the 
wave of settlement is a period of exploitation of gold and silver, followed 
successively by periods of exploitation of copper, of lead and zinc, and of 
iron. 14 The successive periods overlap, for more than one metal, of course, 
may be worked at a given time but the relative order of emphasis tends to 
follow the value per pound. 

Advanced Stage of Exploitation in Europe. Judged by de Launay's 
scale, western Europe has long since passed the gold and silver stage and 
in all probability the copper and lead stage as well. In England, where 
the record is clear, the stage of gold and silver was passed long ago, the 
peak of copper was passed in 1861, of lead in 1870, of zinc about the same 
time and of tin in 1871. 15 Even the peak of high grade iron ore was passed 
in 1882, although immense reserves of very low grade ore remain. Thus by 
the de Launay scale, England is in the late iron stage of maturity. Indeed, 
western Europe as a whole may be assigned to the zinc and iron stages. 

Stage Reached in the United States. In spite of our abundance of 
minerals, it is clear that the United States is traveling the same road. 
America has passed its peak of gold production although it is still a large 

14 Launay, Louis de, La Conquete Minerale, Paris, 1908. 

16 Hewett, D. F., "Cycles of Metal Production," Transactions, American Institute of 
Mining and Metallurgical Engineers, 1929, p. 91. 

[ 77 ] 


contributor to the world's supply. The trend of gold recoveries has been 
downward since the outbreak of the World War and although the present 
decline in commodity prices acts to stimulate gold production, geologists 
see small chance of restoring the industry to its former level. 16 Apparently 
America has also passed the silver peak. Copper production, on the other 
hand, is still climbing, or was, at least, through 1929. The country is still 
a heavy producer of the lower priced metals and can greatly expand its 
output of them whenever the market warrants. On de Launay's scale the 
United States is in the copper stage of mineral exploitation. 

Decline in Exportable Surplus. De Launay's test deals with the 
order in which the metals are attacked. Hewett carried the idea further 
by noting that the exploitation of any given metal tends to follow a 
typical life cycle. 17 The cycle begins with a stage of early youth in which 
the number of mines, and consequently the production of the mineral, 
increases rapidly. There is a large exportable surplus of crude ore which 
moves beyond the district for smelting and refining. The surplus of crude 
ore leads, in turn, to the establishment of local reduction plants, and in the 
industry's prime, smelting capacity and mining capacity are in balance. 
With advancing age the output declines, the exportable surplus is gone 
and the metallurgical plants, if they survive at all, depend upon imported 
ore. Hewett's five stages are shown by successive peaks or culminations of : 

1. The quantity of exports of crude ore. 

2. The number of mines in operation. 

3. The number of smelters or refining units in operation. 

4. The production of metal from domestic ore. 

5. The quantity of imports of crude ore from abroad. 

The description applies specifically to metal mining but correspond- 
ing stages may be found in the winning of the fuels and the non-met allies. 
Space does not permit tracing each one of the five stages, but we may 
apply Hewett's central idea, the transition from a condition of exportable 
surplus to a condition of dependence upon imports, as one of the tests 
of advancing age. Judged by this standard, how old are the mineral 
industries of the United States ? 

Exportable Surplus Still Large. At first sight a review of the long time 
trends in American foreign trade in the minerals for the last fifty years 
shows less change than might have been expected. Measured in dollars, 
we still have a large exportable surplus. Broadly speaking, our major 
exports and imports today consist of the same minerals as forty years ago. 
In absolute quantity both the import and the export items have greatly 
increased, but so has the internal consumption of the country. 

16 Mineral Economics, op. cit., G. F. Loughlin, Ch. XIII, "Precious Metal Supplies and 
the Price Level," pp. 259-263. 

17 Hewett, op. cit., pp. 8S-90. 

[ 78] 


Minerals Showing Little Change. For a number of the minerals, 
including some of the most important, closer examination confirms this 
first impression of no significant change in the balance of imports and 
exports. Among the larger items, bituminous coal, iron, lead and zinc 
show little change. There is no change of course in the position with 
respect to minerals of which the United States lacks resources of com- 
mercial grade, such as tin, nickel, high grade asbestos, antimony, platinum 
and chromite. In all of the last group imports continue to mount with 
domestic consumption and our dependence on foreign supplies is still 
virtually complete. 

Minerals Showing Increasing Exports or Diminishing Imports. There 
is a group of minerals in which time has increased our relative surplus or 
diminished our dependency, which amounts to the same thing. Of these by 
far the most striking illustration is sulphur. Thirty years ago domestic 
production of native sulphur was insignificant and the supply was almost 
wholly imported. Discovery of new deposits on the Gulf Coast and the 
development of the Frasch process of hot water wells have transformed 
the United States from overwhelming dependence to unquestioned 
dominance of the world supply. Less spectacular but real advances have 
occurred in other fields, such as magnesite, nitrates, potash, salt, asphalt 
and molybdenum. 

Minerals Showing Declining Exports or Increasing Imports. It will 
be seen that the group of minerals just discussed those in which domestic 
supplies are becoming relatively more abundant consists of materials of 
secondary importance, very useful indeed, but of distinctly second rank in 
point of labor and capital employed. On the other hand, the group showing 
a decline in ratio of exports to imports includes some of our largest mineral 
industries, notably anthracite, copper and petroleum. All three of these 
have been upon the free list and have enjoyed a profitable export trade. 

Before considering them, it is well to get clearly in mind that a decline 
in relative exports of a mineral may be due to other factors than depletion. 
It may, as in the case of our radium and vanadium industries, be due to 
unexpected discovery of incomparably rich deposits abroad. It may be due 
to the tapping by a new railroad of a foreign deposit known but previously 
inaccessible. It may often be hastened by rapid growth of the internal 
consumption of the country. Or it may be due to temporary causes, 
such as depreciated foreign currencies. But where the mineral is on the 
free list, a declining export balance which has continued for some years is 
a line of evidence that our search for criteria of advancing age cannot 
afford to ignore. 

For Pennsylvania anthracite the record is clear. The exports, which 
go to Canada and have run as high as $45,000,000 a year in value, are 
shrinking. In the New England market, until recently considered one of 



the great strongholds of the Pennsylvania product, first Welsh and then 
Russian anthracite obtained a foothold. The change is due to several 
factors, but among them is clearly the increasing cost of mining anthracite, 
in which advances in wage rates have reinforced the growing difficulties 
of nature. The evidence of the physical conditions has already been 
pointed out, and to find the evidence of foreign trade pointing in the 
same direction indicates that Hewett's test of shifting foreign balances 
is one criterion of age. 

Applied to copper mining, the test again suggests advancing age. The 
United States continues to be the largest exporter of copper in the world. 
In 1929, more than 990,000,000 pounds of the red metal were sent abroad. 
It is not generally realized, however, that while exports of the metal 
have been growing, imports of ore and crude material have been growing 
faster still. In 1891-1895 the metal in the imports was equivalent to only 
8 percent of that in exports. Year by year the ratio of imports has grown 
until in 1929 the imports were 98 percent as great as the exports. In fact, 
under the disturbed conditions of 1930 the imports exceeded the exports. 
It is true that the imports consist chiefly of crude metal brought to this 
country for refining, and that they come from mines in Latin America 
controlled by United States capital. Recently also, competition of very 
rich deposits in Africa has become a factor. Even allowing for these other 
causes, the forty-year change in the export balance indicates that increas- 
ing depth and declining grade of ore now handicap many of our copper 
mines in competing with those of newer lands in the Southern Hemisphere. 


Ratio of 

Ratio of 

Ratio of 


imports to 


imports to 


imports to 




1891-1895 average 


1916-1920 average. 


1927 average 


1896-1900 average 


1921-1925 average. 


1928 average 


1901-1905 average 


1926-1930 average. 


1929 average 


1906-1910 average 


1926 average 


1930 average 


1911-1915 average 


Calculated from records of the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce. 

The trend of petroleum is closely parallel to that of copper. The 
United States continues to produce 68 percent of the world's output of 
crude oil and remains the largest exporter, its shipments abroad increasing 
steadily. But here again the rise of imports tells the tale. A generation 
ago imports of oil were negligible. The past thirty years have seen a 
great increase, and in 1929 the imports of crude and refined products 
amounted to about 70 percent of the exports. In 1921-1925 they even 

[ 80 1 


exceeded the exports. At the turn of the century a third of the total supply 
(production plus imports) was available for shipment abroad; in 1929 the 
proportion had fallen to 14 percent. Among the several factors involved in 
this thirty-year change is the depletion of the older fields and the increas- 
ing depth of drilling in many of the new. As in the case of copper the 
imports come chiefly from properties owned by United States capital in 
Latin America and they consist largely of crude oil brought to this coun- 
try for refining. This fact does not alter the difficult position of the mar- 
ginal producers in the United States. Other minerals of lesser rank show 
like signs of advancing depletion and lessened ability to compete. 

The verdict of the test of exports and imports is clear. Although 
prices to the American consumer are still declining in relation to other 
commodities, our mineral industries have started on the path of the older 
districts of Europe, a path which ultimately leads to severe physical 
handicaps and unavoidable increases in cost. 

Migration from Old to New Fields. Another sign of mineral deple- 
tion is the shift in the centers of production brought about by the decline 
and abandonment of old fields and forced migration to new ones. Such a 
shift in sources of supply may be at work even in an industry where the 
trends of output per worker and of price give no hint of increased costs 
of mining. Mining, say the Germans, is the robber industry. It leaves 
behind abandoned dumps and workings filled with stagnant water and 
the migration to new fields is quite as much a sign of increasing costs in 
the old areas as it is of abundant resources in the new. Measured by this 
test most of our minerals (except the omnipresent materials of construc- 
tion) show signs of depletion. Many once famous districts have already 
been exhausted and production of the mineral is sustained by turning 
quickly to new fields or to sources of lower grade. 18 

A few examples drawn from the history of many fields will suffice 
for illustration. In gold mining the record is cruelly apparent. The glories 
of Cripple Creek have departed; the camp which employed 6,000 men 
in its boom days now has hardly 500. Several others of the famous gold 
districts are dead or dying and perhaps the majority of the larger ones 
are on the decline, or maintain their output by means of by-product gold 
from copper, lead and zinc. Among the conspicuous exceptions are the 
Black Hills district, which is still in its prime, and Alaska, which promises 
a large increase. 19 Silver mining tells somewhat the same story. The 
fabulous Comstock Lode which yielded $300,000,000 in the first twenty 
years of its life is gutted. Several other famous silver camps are following 
the same path and production of the white metal is maintained today 
chiefly as a by-product of the working of the base metals. 

18 Hewett, op. cit., p. 92. 

"Loughlin. G. F. op. cit., pp. 260, 263. 

[ 81 ] 


In copper, as already mentioned, the United States is still rapidly 
expanding its output, increasing its average production per worker and 
diminishing its costs. The industry as a whole is plainly in its prime, yet 
there are districts in which exhaustion is a serious problem. It is most 
conspicuous in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the first of the great 
American copper camps, which has produced in its time more than 
$1,300,000,000 worth of the red metal. In this famous old field, increasing 
depth and declining grade of ore limit the output per man, and the dis- 
trict is losing in the competitive struggle as the center of the production 
shifts more and more to the southwest. 

In the other non-ferrous metal industries, one can find parallel 
illustrations of individual mining camps which have fallen sadly 
to decay. 

In mining iron ore, production has shifted from the eastern districts 
to Lake Superior and from the older ranges of Lake Superior to the Mesabi. 
The shift reflects the unrivalled richness of the Mesabi quite as much as 
the depletion of the older districts, yet it is important to note that the 
grade of ore produced in the Mesabi is declining and that the standard 
of the commercial shipments from the region is kept up by beneficiation 
of increasing tonnages of material below present commercial grade. 20 

Sulphur has already been mentioned as one of the relatively few 
examples of increasing abundance, but even in this industry the early 
seats of production in Louisiana have been worked out and abandoned 
and the supply is maintained by shifting quickly to newly discovered 
domes in Texas. 

Bituminous coal illustrates a mining industry in early youth, almost in 
infancy as far as depletion of aggregate reserves is concerned, yet in 
spite of the seemingly inexhaustible tonnage underground, many dis- 
tricts show clear signs of depletion. The glories of the Moshannon bed of 
Clearfield are a memory, the best of the Brazil Block seam is gone and 
only a few acres of virgin coal remain in the famous Big Vein of Georges 
Creek. In the anthracite industry there is small sign of migration, for 
absence of considerable deposits outside of Pennsylvania leaves no place 
to which the anthracite industry can shift. As already noted, however, 
the anthracite region as a whole has entered the stage of increasing costs 
of mining, and the loss of tonnage to competitive fuels is in a sense a 
migration of production centers to other fields. 

Natural gas shows the characteristic migration in high degree. Its 
record is punctuated with spectacular discoveries and subsequent decline. 
In the Appalachian region as a whole, production shows no increase and 
is maintained by moving south from the declining supplies of Pennsylva- 
nia and Ohio into West Virginia, where lie most of the undrilled reserves. 

20 In 1930, 18.5 percent of the iron ore shipped from Minnesota mines was beneficiated. 



The little McKeesport field, discovered in 1919, was exploited so rapa- 
ciously that it was practically exhausted within a year. Now attention 
shifts to northern Pennsylvania where recent discoveries in the Tioga 
region offer some hopes of prolonging the Appalachian supply, and while 
the east is thus at best holding its own, the center of production shifts to 
the southwest and thousand-mile pipe lines are relied on to bring in gas 
to communities where ten years ago a shortage seemed inevitable. 

But the greatest example of exhaustion and migration to new fields 
is petroleum. Everyone in the oil country knows the characteristic decline 
of an oil well, so regular that it permits forecast of the well's ultimate 
yield. At best a given pool reaches its peak in a few years, and often in a 
few months after the discovery of the well. Thereafter comes a rapid 
decline. The interval between discovery and the tell tale appearance of 
salt water in the marginal wells is characteristically from eighteen months 
to three years. 

Were it not for discovery of new pools the supply of petroleum would 
collapse, for the bulk of the output at any time comes from the flush pro- 
duction of new fields. Thus the history of the American industry is one 
of successive movement from old to new areas. In the Appalachians where 
the industry began, the older districts have long since ceased to yield, 
except by the pump, and some of the operators even resort to secondary 
recovery by forcing down water to wash out the old sands. From Penn- 
sylvania the centers of production moved westward to Ohio and Indiana 
and thence to Oklahoma, the Gulf Coast, California and Texas. The 
record of some of the famous pools of recent years shows how quickly 
their glories fade. Cushing, which glutted the world market in 1914-1915 
and caused one of the most serious periods of overproduction in the 
history of the industry, is now an insignificant producer under the pump, 
contributing less than 1 percent of the national supply. Seminole, which 
flooded the market in 1927-1928, is on the wane and the fickle goddess 
of luck who rules the oil pools has turned her face to Oklahoma City and 
east Texas. 

It is a consolation to the deserted mining districts that time may 
bring a reversal of the migration. Many of the old camps still contain 
large deposits of mineral too low in grade to work under present condi- 
tions. A revolutionary change in methods or a great increase in price 
might restore their former glory. Such a change might again make the 
Lake Superior copper district one of the world's greatest centers of 
production, when other districts, now producing high grade ore, have 
faded simply because they lack reserves of lower grade material. 

Increasing Demand for Tariff Protection. Confirmation of the 
underlying evidence pointing to depletion of the older mining districts is 
found in the changing attitude toward the tariff. Our concern here is not 

f 83 1 


with the wisdom of the protective policy. The motive of self-interest is 
as clear in the position of mine owners regarding the tariff as in that of 
other business groups. Space permits no statement of the familiar argu- 
ments for protection, or of the less familiar free trade argument that 
tariffs on exhaustible resources tend to accelerate depletion and bring 
nearer a time of ultimate dependence on foreign supplies. Our concern is 
rather with the fact that great industries formerly content to remain upon 
the free list now demand protection. To students of mineral economics 
this is one of the symptoms of increasing age. 

Some of our mineral industries have been protected since early times. 
Pig iron has long been the recipient of tariff favors. Lead and zinc ob- 
tained protection many years ago, not because the deposits were poor 
but because they lay so far inland that European metal could compete 
on the Atlantic Coast. A tariff was laid on mercury as early as 1883 and 
has been raised several times since. Aluminum, though later in rising to 
commercial importance, has been protected from the start. Cement, 
clay products, glass manufactures and other derivatives of the mines 
have asked for and obtained substantial protection. 

The war brought another crop of protected mineral industries, a 
crop planted by the artificially high prices caused by stoppage of normal 
imports during hostilities. Chief among them were the ferro-alloy minerals 
especially manganese and tungsten and magnesite for refractories. 
The wisdom of extending protection to certain of these minerals has been 
challenged, and as far as the criticisms are just, the cost to the consumer, 
will have to be set down as one of the expenses of war. 

Until recently, however, the great bulk of American mineral produc- 
tion remained passively on the free list, because the owners, enjoying a 
large export trade, saw nothing to gain by asking for protection. Now oil, 
copper and anthracite are demanding a tariff. In part the change of 
attitude is due to discovery of exceptionally rich deposits in new lands, 
such as the copper of Rhodesia and the Congo, in part to depreciation of 
foreign currencies and to state promoted exports from Soviet Russia, 
but also it reflects the plight of increasingly influential groups of marginal 
producers who cannot meet the pressure of foreign competition. Some 
producers with large holdings abroad, on the other hand, continue to be 
more interested in providing outlets for their foreign output than in 
protecting the domestic price. 

The transfer of these three minerals to the dutiable list would 
be a turning point in the utilization of natural resources in North America. 
In 1929 only 18 percent of the minerals actually imported were dutiable. 
In the same year only 27 percent of the total value of our domestic mineral 
production consisted of commodities enjoying protection. Shifting copper, 
petroleum, and anthracite from the free list would raise the percentage 

[ 84 ] 


dutiable to 67 percent of the imports 21 and to 63 percent of the domestic 

Whether or not protection is obtained, the demand for it is testimony 
of the advancing age of the mineral industries of the United States. Just 
as a century ago the centers of mineral production began to shift from 
Europe to the United States, so today they show signs of migrating to still 
newer lands in South America, Northern Canada and Africa. 



While these slow moving and long time tendencies have been at work 
modifying the physical and economic environment, the men engaged in 
the mineral industries have been absorbed in their daily tasks of buying 
and selling, hiring and firing, and earning a living. Their day to day 
problems involve a thousand economic and social adjustments and it 
would doubtless be possible to list a large number of clearly apparent 
trends, which to the people engaged seem of engrossing interest. Such a 
list would include tendencies in methods of management, technical 
supervision, labor relations, collective bargaining and company unions, 
civil liberties in mining communities, housing, sanitation, public health, 
unemployment particularly technological unemployment accident pre- 
vention, distribution and marketing, changes in freight rates, competitive 
wage levels, taxation of mineral reserves, wage rates and profits. To the 
employers and workmen in the mineral industries these immediate prob- 
lems seem more real and important than the remoter factors discussed in 
this chapter, and as social problems many of them are of first rank. 22 

Overdevelopment and Destructive Competition. For our present 
purposes we must select from this mass of phenomena only those which 
react conspicuously upon the resource endowment and which tend to 
enhance or impair its adequacy for future national requirements. Among 
these one stands out above all others the highly competitive organiza- 
tion of the business of mining and the tendency to overdevelopment 
and overproduction, with its concomitant wastes. Existence of surplus 
capacity is a familiar matter in American business. It is present in many 
lines of manufacturing. 23 It always involves waste of capital and labor 
with resulting pressure on prices, profits and wage rates. These charac- 
teristic economic losses are present in mining on a very large scale, but 
in the case of resource industries, excessive competition may also involve 
waste of the natural endowment upon which the high American standard 

21 Assuming, that is, no diminution in the volume of imports. The percentages are 
based upon the dollar values in 1929. 

22 On labor problems, see Chap. XVI. 

23 Compare with Chap. V. 

[ 85 1 


of life so largely depends. It is this needless sacrifice of the resources which 
our discussion of the economic organization of mining must keep in view. 

The condition of overdevelopment with the consequent tendency to 
overproduction seems especially prevalent in the extractive industries. 
Agriculture and lumbering, as well as mining, exhibit it. The tendency is 
world wide, for the extractive products are staple commodities competing 
in world markets, but the effects are especially serious in the United 
States because of the great extent of our extractive industries and the 
highly competitive character of their organization. 

Resulting Waste of the Resources. The results are most clearly 
seen in mining bituminous coal where the hardships endured by the 
persons engaged are all too familiar. Much of the industry is bankrupt. 
From 1923 to 1929 a total of 3,300 mines were forced to close, and 250,000 
men lost their jobs; the wages of the remainder have been cut again and 
again, and with the fall in labor standards has come near collapse of the 
machinery of collective bargaining. 

The economic losses are by this time a familiar story. Here we must 
stress the waste of resources that such destructive competition compels. 
After field examination of hundreds of mines in all the major eastern 
districts, the engineers of the United States Coal Commission placed the 
average loss in mining bituminous coal at 35 percent, of which 15 per- 
cent is classed as unavoidable and 20 percent as avoidable under present 
known practice. 24 In the agricultural states of the middle west, the loss 
averages from 37 to 53 percent, nearly half the coal being left underground 
in pillars and stumps without attempt at recovery. The engineers of the 
Coal Commission were careful to refer to the tonnage sacrificed as a 
"loss" and not a "waste," and in justice to the coal operators it must be 
made plain that they had no choice in the matter. Sheer abundance of 
resources and competition in an overdeveloped industry forced them to 
adopt such practices or go out of business. But from the social viewpoint 
the fact remains that 150,000,000 tons of minable coal is left under- 
ground every year under circumstances which render its recovery highly 
improbable. The avoidable loss is as great as the entire bituminous pro- 
duction of post-war Germany. 

Similar conditions are found in a number of other industries. The 
most conspicuous example is oil, in which producers themselves admit 
the need of conservation. In spite of brilliant engineering progress in the 
technique of drilling, recovery, refining and use, destructive competition 
perpetuates serious waste of the resources. The losses referred to are 
quite apart from the waste of labor and capital through duplication of 

24 U. S. Congress, George S. Rice, and J. W. Paul, "Amount and Nature of Losses in 
Mining Bituminous Coal in the Eastern United States," Senate Document 195, 68th 
Congress, 2d. Sess., Report of the United States Coal Commission, 1925, Part III, pp. 1841- 


facilities and effort. Our concern is rather with the premature encroach- 
ment of salt water through competitive drilling, the premature dissipation 
of the pressure of gas dissolved in the oil, which is now known to be the 
chief expulsive agent in driving the oil out of the sands; the continued 
loss of natural gas through production in excess of any possible market; 
the loss of the volatile constituents through storing surplus crude in open 
reservoirs; and the flooding of such quantities of oil upon the market 
as to force its utilization under boilers in localities where coal is cheaply 
available, thereby sacrificing the potential gasoline content which is 
capable of much higher uses. These losses again are not the fault of the 
individual oil operator. They are the consequence of the present competi- 
tive organization and are in sharp contrast to the brilliant technical 
advances which have been made by the industry where competitive con- 
ditions permit. There is not the slightest doubt that the engineers of both 
the oil and coal industries can effect great savings in the resources if and 
when economic conditions make it profitable to do so, merely by applying 
engineering methods which are already understood. 

Complicating Factors. The roots of the problem are embedded in 
legal conceptions of mineral property transplanted from Tudor England 
into the very different conditions of the New World. The common law 
doctrine that whoso owns the surface owns the mineral below caused the 
original title to most of the coal and other stratified mineral deposits to 
pass into the ownership of some millions of farmers without regard to 
future problems of mineral exploitation. Wherever this occurred the law 
of mining started out of step with the economics and engineering of 
mining, the discordance being most serious in the case of the migratory 
oil and gas. The scattering of ownership and the conflict of local interest 
thus created have hitherto proved insurmountable obstacles to unification 
of policy among producers either of oil and gas or bituminous coal. 

On the other hand, those who despair of control by voluntary efforts 
of the producers and turn to the alternative of legislation, meet another 
obstacle quite as serious the confusion between state and federal 
authority. The Constitution, as interpreted by the courts, assumes that 
"interstate commerce" is something distinct from "production," and 
assigns exclusive jurisdiction over the one to the federal government and 
over the other to 48 separate states. In the actual business of mining, 
"production" and "interstate commerce" do not thus dissociate them- 
selves, and in practice neither the federal government nor the individual 
states, acting alone, are in position to stabilize the mineral industries by 
legislative enactment. A good illustration is the ineffectiveness of the 
attempts of either the federal government or the states to ration coal 
supplies during the great strike of 1922. 25 Add to these obstacles the 

26 Tryon, F. G., "The Underlying Facts of the Coal Situation in the United States," 
Proceedings of the Academy of Political Science in the City of New York, vol. X, no. 4, pp. 

[ 87 ] 


consumers' fear of combination among competitors, expressed in the anti- 
trust laws, and the producers' dislike of regulation by external authority, 
and the problem of controlling destructive competition becomes difficult 

Attempts at Production Control. That change in the economic 
organization of production is needed is the conclusion reached by leaders 
in many of the mineral industries. Space permits only the briefest 
reference to the trends in this direction. The emergence of "production 
control" as an industry problem is evidenced by widespread discussion 
and by the appointment of trade committees to deal with the subject. 
Such committees have been organized by the American Institute of 
Mining Engineers, the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, the 
American Petroleum Institute, the National Coal Association, and by 
associations in the metal trades. The devices suggested or attempted 
include stabilization through export associations organized under the 
Webb Act, in which foreign producers are invited to participate; organiza- 
tion of international cartels; mergers and consolidations; coordination 
by federal agencies such as the Oil Conservation Board; government 
regulation and control (generally opposed by industry); modification of 
the anti-trust laws to permit price agreements and the fixing of production 
quotas; district selling agencies; unit operation of oil pools; proration of 
output by voluntary agreement or by compulsory order of state commis- 
sions under authority of the state's police power; interstate compacts; 
and even constitutional amendment. The most interesting and significant 
of these experiments are probably those attempted in the oil industry 
where the wastes of competition are especially heavy and where opinion 
among producers has crystallized in support of legislation passed under 
the police powers of the state. California, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico 
and some of the other oil states have enacted such legislation, but the 
results, while encouraging, serve to emphasize the interstate character 
of competition in this as in other mineral industries and suggest that 
until means are found to coordinate policies among the principal produc- 
ing states the problem of waste prevention will remain unsolved. 


It is proverbially hazardous to prophesy in human affairs and when 
to the uncertainties of social action are added the chance character of 
mineral discovery and the dynamic possibilities of invention, the task is 
doubly difficult. Anyone tempted to read the future of the minerals should 
remember not only the troubles of business forecasters, but the short- 
comings of geologic estimates of reserves. When Boston was building 
King's Chapel in 1745, men feared that the supply of granite boulders 

[ 88 ] 


would prove insufficient to finish the structure, and as late as 1920 the 
U. S. Geological Survey sponsored a very careful estimate of the country's 
oil reserves which eleven years' experience has already proved much too 
low. In the circumstances, a forecast is inappropriate, but something may 
be said as to the outlook, assuming the trends before indicated to continue. 

The Ten-year Outlook. Considering the minerals as a whole and 
the country as a whole, the immediate outlook is for ample supplies 
available at declining cost. As far as the mineral and power resources are 
concerned, there is nothing to indicate the emergence of a serious limiting 
factor in the next ten years. At the same time, shifts in sources of supply 
will undoubtedly continue, individual minerals may rise in relative price 
and there may be increased pressure for tariffs. 

In fact, the immediate social problems growing out of the minerals 
seem less those of scarcity than of superabundance. Men are thinking of 
the coal question, the oil question and even the metal question in terms 
of controlling the economic wastes of overdevelopment and destructive 
competition. The urge for change in economic organization is strong, and 
it comes primarily not from consumers complaining of a shortage, but 
from owners unable to dispose of a troublesome surplus and from mine 
workers who want protection against low wages and unemployment. 

The Long Time Outlook. In the long time outlook the outstanding 
facts are the growing difficulties of mining and the prospect of an ultimate 
increase in cost. The tendencies are unmistakable, and the experience of 
England shows how early in the exploitation of a mineral resource the 
stage of increasing cost may arrive. England's original endowment of 
non-ferrous metal was considerable (though not great), yet it lasted only 
about a hundred and fifty years at the accelerated pace of production 
which followed the Industrial Revolution. In that period England has 
exhausted all of the best of her copper, her lead, her tin and most of her 
high grade iron ores, in all of which she led the world during the early 
nineteenth century. England's endowment of coal was among the richest 
in the world, and according to the British geologists, only 6 percent of the 
original reserve has thus far been removed. But in the course of winning 
the first 6 percent, the British have been driven to use seams as thin as 
14 inches and to seek thicker coal at depths as great as 3,500 feet. Because 
of this, it costs Britain more labor to mine a ton of coal today than it did 
fifty years ago, and the increased burden is a drag on her entire industrial 
life. The problem of conservation is not to prepare for a day centuries 
hence when all the coal and metal shall be gone, but to minimize the 
readjustment to a stage of increasing cost which in some of the older lands 
has already arrived and in the United States is only a matter of time. The 
prospect is clear enough to make the prevention of needless waste a major 
social responsibility. 

[ 89 1 


As far as the mineral and power resources are concerned, the long time 
problem of conservation merges with the immediate social problem of 
overdevelopment and overproduction. Both are concerned with con- 
trolling the wastes of destructive competition. The task of protecting the 
remaining public domain against looting by private interests the great 
objective of the Rooseveltian conservationists was largely accomplished 
by the passage of the Mineral Leasing Act and the Federal Water Power 
Act, although the administration of these laws will require perpetual 
vigilance. The task of devising the technical means for increasing efficiency 
is making encouraging progress, and the advance of the arts of mining, 
metallurgy and utilization was never more rapid than now. It remains to 
organize the economics of production so as to effect the full saving of 
resources which technology has already shown to be possible. The task of 
the present day conservationist is to see that any change in economic 
organization for the control of production which is undertaken to insure 
steadier profits and wages should also operate to prevent needless waste 
of the underlying resources. 



Two developments of the past decade have greatly reduced the pro- 
spective need for farm land, made former land policies obsolete, and raised 
grave economic and social problems. These two developments, not new, 
but of greatly increased importance, are the rapid progress in agricultural 
technique and the rapid decline in number of births. Supplementing the 
decline in births have been congressional acts and executive orders which 
have gradually reduced immigration, until in 1931 emigrants exceeded 
immigrants. The progress in agricultural technique tends to increase 
production of farm products, while the decline in number of births tends 
to decrease consumption. 26 The problem is how to control the use of the 
land so that production will be continuously adjusted to consumption. 

Associated with this problem is another which is no less important 
but which will be merely noted. Since most cities, in the absence of immi- 
gration from abroad, are dependent upon the rural people, particularly 
the farm people, for the prevention of a rapid decline in population after 
two or three decades (in a few cities deaths already exceed births), it is 
clear that, although advances in agricultural technique are economically 

26 Because of the large proportion of young and middle aged people in the nation, 
population and consumption of farm products probably will continue to increase for several 
decades, but less rapidly than in the past. See Chap. I. 

[ 90] 


desirable, the social consequences of a decreasing farm population will 
be serious. 

The following discussion offers no solution of these problems, but 
merely summarizes some of the conditions and trends that must be taken 
into consideration by those whose task it is to develop a national agri- 
cultural and forest policy. 

Contraction of the Crop Area. Adjustments in the use of the land to 
the demand for farm products are being made, but the process is wasteful 
of wealth and human effort. As a consequence of the developments noted 
above and other factors, 27 contraction of the crop area, previously con- 
fined almost entirely to the hill lands of the northeastern states, to the 
hilly, eroded or depleted soils of the southeastern states, and to the Sierra 
and northern coast counties of California, extended during the decade 
1919-1929 into three-fifths of the counties of the nation. This contrac- 
tion was general in the states east of the Mississippi River, in Missouri, 
and in the Pacific coast states; while an equivalent expansion in crop area 
occurred in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountain states, attributable 
largely to the use of the tractor and combine. Despite an increase in popu- 
lation of more than 20,000,000 since the World War, the nation's crop 
acreage has remained about stationary. In 1931 it was smaller than in 
any year since 1917, with the possible exception of 1924. 

The pioneer age is past. There is less opportunity now than in former 
times for the man with strong arms and a stout heart, but no money, to 
hew a farm from the forest or plow it out of the prairie sod. This is not 
primarily because nearly all except the poorest land is in private owner- 
ship, for many farms can be bought for less than the cost of the buildings 
the land is given away but rather because there is a persistent surplus 
of farm products and prices are so low that even the best farmers on the 
best land can scarcely make a modest living. 28 

Despite an increase in consumption of farm products of about 18 
percent in the decade 1920-1930, the value of farm land suffered a heavy, 

27 The principal other factors are changes in domestic consumption of farm products, 
decline in exports, and decline in the general price level. Perhaps these should be called 
facts rather than factors, for each is the result of numerous underlying factors. It is the 
author's opinion that the advances in agricultural technique constituted the major factor 
affecting changes in land utilization during the past decade, and that the approach toward 
a stationary population will tend to increase the influence of this factor upon land utiliza- 
tion in the future. Already the annual increase of population is a million less than a decade 
ago. If the population increase of 1921-1923 had continued there would be about five 
million more people in the United States today. This means that at the present ratio of 
2.7 acres per person, 13,500,000 additional acres of crops would be required, no allowance 
being made for the lesser consumption by children. 

28 In the past agriculture has provided security in old age and against adversity for a 
large proportion of the people. But both the security (as indicated by the great increase 
in foreclosures) and the proportion of the population affected have declined rapidly, 
and the cities have provided no adequate substitute. This is probably an important factor 
affecting the birth rate. 

[ 91 1 


continuous, and almost universal decline. There has been a large increase 
in ratio of mortgage debt to value of farm real estate and many fore- 
closures have occurred. This trend has been accompanied by an increase 
in taxes (over 100 percent, 1919 to 1929), which also has tended to depress 
land values. Vast areas of both farm and forest land have become tax 
delinquent in many of the less fertile areas. As a consequence, it is often 
necessary to raise the tax rate on the land that remains in private owner- 
ship, and this tends to accelerate delinquency and the reversion of the 
land to the county or state. Frequently the county has not the means to 
develop the land for forests or other purposes, and in some cases even 
the states cannot do so. Through tax delinquency rather than as a result 
of definite policy, a new public domain is in process of development. 
Which government agency, if any, should take over this land, how it 
should be managed, and what should be done about the community 
burdens it formerly bore will soon become urgent problems. 

Some Consequences of Agricultural Contraction. The situation has 
social as well as economic aspects and these are even more serious. Farm 
population in the United States decreased 2,000,000 between 1920 and 
1925 according to the census, but it is probable that the enumeration of 
farm population in 1925 was incomplete, and that the decline was not 
much, if any, greater than this between 1920 and 1930. 29 In areas where 
crop acreage is contracting persistently a large proportion of the young 
people have left the farms. 30 After the children have gone and as the 
strength of the farmer declines with age, field after field reverts to pasture 
or to brush until only the house and garden remain. Upon the death of 
the farmer these may be rented or sold to summer visitors or to a less 
desirable class of people who tend to drift into such areas. Schools decline 
for lack of pupils as well as of funds, churches close, social life becomes 
more primitive and sometimes the precarious agricultural income of the 
inhabitants is supplemented by returns from illicit enterprises. 

These local developments, however, are not so serious as the national 
consequences of a declining rural population. In 1930 the number of 
children under five years of age in cities of 100,000 population and over, 
considered in relation to women 15 to 45 years of age, lacked fully 20 
percent of being sufficient to maintain a stationary population. 31 In the 
smaller cities down to 2,500 population the deficit averaged seven percent, 

29 The population inquiries in the 1925 census were incidental to the agricultural 
inquiries and, apparently, were answered in many cases only for the farm family, contrary 
to instructions. Moreover, owing to the change in the date of census enumeration from 
January 1 in 1920 and in 1925 to April 1 in 1930 it is impossible to estimate with any preci- 
sion the change in number of people on farms during the five or ten years preceding 1930. 

30 See Chap. X. 

31 Based on the 1927 "expectation of life" tables of the Metropolitan Life Insurance 
Company. The mortality rate was unusually low in 1927, the expectation of life at birth 
exceeding 60 years. See also Chap. I. 

[ 92] 


while in the rural non-farm (mostly village) population there was a sur- 
plus of nearly 30 percent, and in the farm population a surplus of 50 

Continued decrease in the proportion of the nation's population that 
is rural, which is almost certain to accompany progress in agricultural 
technique unless part time farming increases rapidly, will therefore tend 
to diminish the number of births in the nation. 32 A further decline in 
births as great as that from 1925 to 1930, unless counterbalanced by 
immigrants, will involve a declining national population a few decades 
hence. This in turn will involve a declining demand for farm products 
unless exports or consumption per capita increase, which, entirely aside 
from advances in agricultural technique, will result in another decline 
in farm population. Thus a downward spiral will be set in motion, and 
its reversal will be difficult to effect. That the process of rural depletion 
may be accelerated in the future is indicated by a decline of 660,000, or 
16 percent in the number of children under five years of age on farms 
between 1920 and 1930, while persons over 55 years old increased 300,000 
or nearly nine percent. 

The question may be raised, however, whether a stationary or declin- 
ing population is not essential to the maintenance of the standard of 
living in view of the progressive depletion of natural resources. Let us 
consider, therefore, the extent of depletion of the soil resources and the 
outlook for the future. 


In general, American agriculture has been of an exploitative char- 
acter. The conquest of a virgin continent by a fecund people governed 
by democratic institutions and inspired by the spirit of laissez faire could 
not have resulted in any other kind of agriculture. Fertilizers other than 
animal manure have been little used, except within the last half century, 
and then only in the Atlantic coast states and a few other localities. As 
a consequence the nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur and other 
elements of fertility removed from the soil in the crops and animals or 
animal products sold from farms have not been restored except in limited 
areas. Leaching of the elements of soil fertility by the rain and their 
removal in the drainage waters has continued and has in some areas 
perhaps even been accelerated by the destruction of the original forest or 

32 At present the progress of mechanization in agriculture has practically stopped; but, 
doubtless, advances in animal husbandry are continuing. If the unemployment persists, or 
wages remain as low as the income to be derived from self-sufficing farming, mechaniza- 
tion will be retarded, and migration from the farms to the cities will be lessened. But unless 
there be a vast reversion toward primitive forms of agricultural production, a net migration 
from farm to city will persist so long as there is a material increase in the farm population. 

f 93 1 


grass cover. More serious, the large acreage of row crops, notably cotton 
and corn (in the cultivation of which the soil is exposed to the rains during 
the entire period of growth), has led to widespread soil erosion. 

Depletion by Crop Removal and Leaching. In the north, particularly 
in the northeastern and Great Lakes states, where climatic and soil condi- 
tions, as well as the system of farming (much of the land is in hay and 
pasture) have permitted little erosion as compared with the south, most 
of the losses in soil resources are due to removal of the crops and leaching 
by the rains. In the humid northern states the losses from the surface soil 
since settlement average possibly a third of the original sulphur, a fourth 
of the nitrogen, a fifth of the phosphorous and a tenth of the potassium. 33 
Calcium and magnesium losses have been notable in many soils. The losses 
by crop removal and leaching can be restored and maintained almost 
indefinitely, however, if it is found profitable to do so, for the known 
deposits of minerals containing these elements seem sufficient for cen- 
turies to come. 

The deposits of sulphur in Texas and Louisiana are apparently ade- 
quate to meet the needs of agriculture for several decades in addition to 
meeting an industrial demand much larger than at present. 34 When these 
richer deposits are exhausted it may be necessary to fall back on the 
deposits of gypsum and iron pyrite which are practically inexhaustible. 
As to nitrogen, the fears of a quarter century ago that the supply would 
soon be deficient have proved groundless. The rapid advance in manu- 
facture of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, the nitrogen being furnished by 
the air, assures a practically inexhaustible supply of such fertilizers at a 
price which is likely to become lower and lower. Moreover, certain bac- 
teria living on the roots of leguminous plants, and in many soils non- 
symbiotic bacteria also, are constantly adding to the supply of nitrogen 
in the soil. As to phosphorus, the deposits of calcium phosphate which 
extend under hundreds of thousands of acres in Wyoming, Utah and 
Idaho are estimated to contain at least six billion tons, and probably do 

33 This is an audacious generalization. It is based, for sulphur, in part on a paper entitled 
"Agricultural Aspects of Sulphur and Sulphur Compounds," by J. G. Lipman and H. G. 
McLean, Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering, vol. 38, no. 7, July, 1931; for nitrogen, 
phosphorous and potassium on analyses of cropped and adjacent virgin soils of the same 
type, supplemented by data in a paper by Dr. Lipman entitled "The Nitrogen Outlook," 
Journal of the American Society of Agronomy, vol. 24, no. 3, pp. 227-237, 1932; and for 
potassium by lysimeter (leaching) measurements at Cornell University. 

The most complete series of soil analyses were supplied by Robert M. Salter of the 
Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station, and less extensive data by F. L. Duley (Kansas), 
Hans Jenny (Missouri), M. F. Morgan (Connecticut), D. A. Shutt (Dominion Experi- 
mental Farms, Ottawa), A. R. Whitson (Wisconsin), F. A. Wyatt (Alberta). It is necessary 
to add that some soil scientists believe the margin of error in taking soil samples and in 
chemical analysis is so great that conclusions based on analyses of virgin and cropped soils 
are likely to be invalid. 

34 U. S. Bureau of Mines, Robert H. Ridgway, Sulphur, Information Circular, no. 6329, 
August, 1930. 

[ 94 ] 


contain twice this amount. 35 These are sufficient, when the Florida, 
South Carolina and Tennessee sources are depleted, to provide for several 
hundred years an adequate quantity of phosphate fertilizer for 500,000,- 
000 acres of crop and pasture land an area greater than that in crops and 
plowable pasture at present. As to potassium, the reserves in Germany, 
France, Poland and Spain are estimated to contain enough potash salts 
to meet the world's need for 5,000 years. Should these supplies be cut off, 
recent discoveries in New Mexico and western Texas indicate a deposit 
perhaps even greater than that in the Stassfurt district 36 and almost as 
easily worked. The supplies of limestone, much of which contains magne- 
sium as well as calcium, are, as is well known, unlimited. 

These are the only elements of fertility whose application to the soil 
seems likely to be needed over extensive areas. Certain soils need manga- 
nese, others copper, others iron, but such soils are, apparently, of small 
extent and the supplies of these elements are ample. Depletion of soil 
fertility by crop removal, grazing and leaching, although it may somewhat 
increase cost of production, need cause no anxiety as to the nation's 
food supply for several hundred years to come, and then only with 
reference to phosphorus. 37 

Depletion by Erosion. In the south and southwest, and also in a 
number of areas in the north, erosion has been the principal source of soil 
depletion. This is a much more serious loss, for the humus of the surface 
soil, the crumb-like structure of this top layer, its water-holding capacity, 
bacterial content and all the other features which make it normally more 
fertile than the subsoil, can be replaced very slowly and practically never 
can be restored in most soils. It is estimated by the United States Bureau 
of Chemistry and Soils that "something like 17,500,000 acres of land 
which were formerly cultivated in this country have been destroyed by 
gullying, or so severly washed that farmers cannot afford to attempt their 
cultivation or reclamation." 38 In addition, three or four million acres of 
river bottom land have been covered with sand and gravel and greatly 
reduced in fertility or rendered untillable. 

In the Piedmont of Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia "probably not 
less than 60 percent of all the upland . . . has lost from 4 to 18 inches 

36 Mitchell, Guy E., "America's Resources in Nitrogen, Potash, and Phosphorus," 
Economic Geography, October, 1928, vol. 4, p. 372. 

36 U. S. Bureau of Mines, James S. Wroth, Commercial Possibilities of the Texas-New 
Mexico Potash Deposits, 1930, Bulletin no. 316, p. 118. 

37 But it may be recalled that the soils of China have supported for hundreds, if not 
thousands, of years a larger population than that of the United States on a smaller area of 
cultivated land, and without recourse to mineral fertilizers. 

38 U. S. State Department, H. H. Bennett of the United States Bureau of Chemistry 
and Soils, Documentary Material for the Inter- American Conference in Agriculture, Forestry 
and Animal Husbandry, October, 1930, p. 61. It is interesting to note that this is a greater 
acreage than the total area of arable land in Japan. 

[95 ] 


of its soil and subsoil . . . [and] many of the gullies have cut down to 
bed rock." 39 In Illinois there are at least 9,000,000 acres of low value land 
subject to serious erosion, more than one-half of which is hardly suitable 
for cultivated crops, and there are more than 14,000,000 acres of high 
value land in which erosion is gradually approaching a stage where gullies 
are being formed. 40 At the Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station 
measurements on a gently sloping field, typical of the soil and slope of 
much of the northern portion of the state, show a loss of over 245 tons of 
soil per acre continuously in corn during the twelve years the experiment 
has been in progress, 111 tons from land continuously in wheat, but of 
only 35 tons from land in a rotation of corn, wheat and clover, indicating 
that the surface soil, averaging seven inches deep, will last for 50 to 350 
years, depending upon the cropping system. If put into blue-grass pasture 
it would require 2,800 years to remove the top seven inches of soil, which 
may be no more rapid than the process of soil development. It is estimated 
that "about one-fourth of the surface area of Missouri is subject to severe 
erosion, that one-fourth is subject to moderate erosion, and about one-half 
to light or negligible erosion." 41 

In Oklahoma, a recent reconnaissance erosion survey of the state 
indicated that more than 13,000,000 of the nearly 16,000,000 acres in 
crops were suffering from the effects of severe soil washing. Of this eroding 
area, nearly 6,000,000 acres had reached the stage of gullying. Of 1,700,000 
acres of crop land abandoned, it is estimated that 1,360,000 acres were 
abandoned largely because of erosion. 42 In the opinion of the Experiment 
Station workers two-thirds to three-fourths of the erosion losses in the 
state have occurred in the last ten years. 43 It is the consensus among 
those in charge of the erosion survey of the Department of Agriculture, 
now in progress, that probably a third of the surface soil has been removed 
from one-fourth of the cultivated land of the United States, and that a 
sixth or more of the surface soil has been lost from another fourth of the 
farm land. 44 

39 Ibid., p. 81. However, Piedmont soils, unlike most soils, permit the profitable 
cultivation of the subsoil. 

40 Mumford, H. W., Director of Illinois Agricultural Experiment Station, in a letter to 
the Secretary of Agriculture. 

41 Miller, M. F., Professor of Soils, in a letter to the writer. See also Missouri Agri- 
cultural Experiment Station, Research Bulletin no. 63, p. 31, and Progress Reports of 
"Soil Erosion and Run Off Experiments in Piedmont, North Carolina," by F. O. Bartel, 
mimeographed by U. S. Bureau of Agricultural Engineering. 

42 Soil Erosion Survey of Oklahoma, Extension Service, Agricultural and Mechanical 
Arts College, Stillwater, 1929, p. 2. The survey was made by the Experiment Station. 

43 Blackwell, C. P., Director of Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station, in a letter 
to the writer. Data supplied by H. V. Geib, of the U. S. Bureau of Chemistry and Soils, 
indicate that erosion in parts of Texas is progressing almost as rapidly. 

44 Bennett, H. H., "The Problem of Soil Erosion," Annals of Association of American 
Geographers, September, 1931. 


With regard to losses by erosion in the future the situation is rendered 
more serious by the fact that as the organic material in the soil is depleted 
by tillage and resultant oxidation, and as removal of the surface soil 
exposes the more compact subsoil, gullying generally increases rapidly. 
Unless cropping practices are changed and terraces constructed and 
maintained on much of the sloping land of the south, southwest and 
central west, and locally elsewhere, possibly 100 million acres of crop 



















All figures in millions of acres 

FIG. 1. Land capable of use for crops, 1929. 

Somewhat over a third of the land physically capable of crop production was in crops in 1929, roughly 
another third needed only plowing to be put into crops (shaded with differing designs in the pictogram), while 
the remaining third required irrigation, drainage, or clearing of forest growth. 

land may become gullied and more or less unfit for cultivation within 
50 or 75 years. This is a fourth of the present crop area and a fifth of the 
improved land of the nation. 

But the land resources of the United States are so vast that the loss of 
many millions of acres of crop land by erosion probably would not 
seriously affect the national production. There are about 300,000,000 
acres of land now used mostly for pasture which need only plowing to be 
put into crops. (Figure 1.) Most of this land is less fertile than that at 

[ 97 ] 


present in crops, but it constitutes a vast reserve. Even in the cotton- 
growing states where erosion is most severe, there are approximately 100 
million acres of level to gently rolling land on the South Atlantic and Gulf 
Coastal Plain which could be cleared of forest or brush and cultivated 
profitably with the aid of fertilizer should economic conditions become 

Thus erosion need cause no anxiety as to the supply of food or even 
of fibers for the nation as a whole in the near future; but in the areas where 
erosion is severe its control is a matter of the utmost importance. In many 
places it already has brought about abject poverty. Not only is the fer- 
tility of the soil being depleted in these eroding areas, and the cultivation 
of many fields becoming difficult, but the further mechanization of agricul- 
ture, particularly in the west, and the more extensive use of fertilizers on 
the better lands of the north and east seem likely to make competition in 
crop production increasingly difficult. Although terracing will retard ero- 
sion where it is practiced, it appears that the hilly and rolling lands of the 
south and southwest and in parts of the north central states also, are 
going the way of similar lands in southern China. 45 


Despite the depletion of the land resources of the nation, agricultural 
production has been greater during the past decade than ever before, not 
only in the aggregate but also in production per acre and per person 
employed. As in coal mining, although the resources are less abundant, 
methods and machinery have improved so rapidly that a surplus has 
developed, both of people and of products. 

Production per Worker. Ninety years ago about 60 or 70 percent of 
all men having an occupation were employed in agriculture. 46 The 
percentages are now almost reversed, as 75 percent were engaged in other 
occupations than agriculture on April 1, 1930. The average American 
farmer, after allowing for the services of the hired laborer, in addition to 
feeding three other persons in his family, now provides food and fibers 
for twelve people living in American cities or elsewhere than on farms and 
two more persons living in foreign countries, a total of 18 in all. The shift 

46 F. L. Duley of the Kansas State College of Agriculture notes: "Terracing alone is 
not a cure for erosion. It should be combined with other well recognized practices, such as 
good crop rotation to keep the land protected with a growing crop as much as possible, and 
also with contour cropping of row crops to further enhance water absorption." 

S. H. McCrory, Chief of the U. S. Bureau of Agricultural Engineering, comments: 
"Recent developments in theory and technique of terracing and recently renewed interest 
in the construction of terraces indicate the feasibility of a rather complete control of erosion 
in many cultivated areas." 

46 It should be noted that prior to the modern era of division of labor many farmers 
spent a portion of their time in work not essentially agricultural, which work is now per- 
formed by persons in specialized occupations in the cities. 

F 98 1 


from a predominantly rural to an urban civilization has been made 
possible by the advance in agricultural technique, particularly in the 
application of power. 

Nevertheless, production per person engaged in several types of 
farming has not increased as rapidly as is commonly assumed and there is 
a wide margin available for further advance. The increase in efficiency 
has been notable principally in the production of the small grain and hay 
crops. Cotton today is picked by hand, as it was a century ago, most of 
the corn is still husked or snapped by hand and practically all the fruit 
is picked by hand, while much of the fruit has to be sprayed also, which 
was not done a century ago. 47 Furthermore, the machinery used today 
represents urban labor and capital and a cost which was not involved 
when the farmer made his own tools. This cost probably amounts to 
$50 or less annually per male farm worker, or about 4 percent of his 
production. 48 

Crop production per male worker in agriculture has increased nearly 
two and a half times during the past 90 years and agricultural production 
per worker has apparently increased about three-fold. 49 The increase in 
crop production per worker may have been as much as 25 percent from 
1850 to 1860, was roughly 50 percent from 1850 to 1900, and approxi- 
mately 30 percent during the last 30 years. During the last ten years crop 
production per worker has increased less than 10 percent but agricultural 
production per worker has increased about 25 percent. 

The five years from 1922 to 1926 are in several ways the most remark- 
able in the history of American agriculture. (Figure 2.) Agricultural 

47 C. P. Blackwell, Director of the Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station, notes: 
" In 1926 more than 1,000,000 bales of cotton were harvested by the sled ... In large 
areas the method of hand picking has changed to snapping. A worker can pick in this way 
two to three times as much per day as by the old method. Successful cotton pickers are not 
far in the future." 

48 This estimate is based on two sources : (a) The U. S. Census Bureau, Census of Agricul- 
ture data for 1925 and 1930 on value of machinery on farms, to which figures on depreciation 
were applied, checked against the census figures on expenditure for implements and 
machinery in 1929. This method indicates an annual expenditure of $50 to $70 per worker. 
The calculations were made by the writer. (&) The U. S. Census Bureau, Census of Manu- 
factures on value of farm machinery produced each year 1920-1930, from which was sub- 
tracted value of net exports. The resultant figure was increased 25 percent to allow for 
dealers' margins and transportation costs. This method indicates an annual expenditure 
of $50 per worker. The calculations were made by W. M. Hurst, of the Bureau of Agricul- 
tural Engineering. 

If the tractors are subtracted, because they are primarily a substitute for horses, the 
annual cost of machinery per male worker is reduced to about $35. 

49 The estimates of production are preliminary; they are supplied by the U. S. Bureau 
of Agricultural Economics. Agricultural production consists of crop production, plus 
animal products, less crop feed consumed by livestock, the various products being combined 
on the basis of the average farm price during the period 1917-1926. Price is the only common 
denominator. The index includes the contribution of pasturage and accounts for the 
economies resulting from the substitution of gasoline for horse feed and from other factors. 



production increased about 27 percent, while crop acreage remained 
practically stationary and labor engaged in agriculture declined. Com- 
paring this five-year period with the preceding five-year period, agri- 
cultural production per year of labor employed in agriculture increased 
about 16 percent. Since 1926 agricultural production has not increased 
but this is owing largely to adversities of the weather. In the decade 







Production, !9O7-l9lf\ 
Population, 1907 -I9H I 
Crop Acreage, 1907 -I9H (- 
Months of Labor. I909\ 




19 5 


FIG. 2. Agricultural production, national population, crop land, and farm labor. Percent- 
age change, 1906-1931. 

Although agricultural production is now a third greater than twenty years ago, crop acreage is only an eighth 
greater, and quantity of labor employed in agriculture is somewhat less than in 1909. Production per acre 
has, therefore, increased nearly 20 percent, and production per man nearly 40 percent. Most of this increase 
has occurred since the World War. The increase in production per acre between 1919 and 1929, two fairly normal 
years, was about 16 percent, practically none of which is owing to increase in acre-yields of the crops, while 
the increase in production per man was about 26 percent. It will be noted that agricultural production has just 
about kept pace with population growth during the past 25 years. (Courtesy, U. S. Bureau of Agricultural 

1922-1931 agricultural production per worker was about 22 percent 
greater than in the decade 1912-1921. 

An important factor in the rapid rise in agricultural production during 
the past decade and the doubling of the rate of increase of production per 
worker has been the decline in number of horses and mules brought about 
by the introduction of the tractor and automobile and the consequent 
release of a large amount of feed for meat and milk animals. 50 In view of 

60 Scientific research, particularly the work of the experiment stations, and the dissemi- 
nation of this knowledge among farmers, has been accused of promoting excessive agricul- 
tural production, and as one of the causes, therefore, of the present very low prices for 
farm products. It should be noted, however, that probably two-thirds of the increase in 

[ 100 ] 


this substitution of gasoline for horse feed, the increasing production of 
meat and milk per unit of feed consumed and the shifts from the less 
productive toward the more productive crops and classes of livestock, it 
is clear that not all, indeed probably not over half of the increased produc- 
tion per worker during recent years, can be attributed directly to the use 
of more power per worker. 






FIG. 3. Estimated total horse power available on farms of the United States. 
The rapid increase in mechanical power on farms since 1900 is clearly shown in this graph; indeed, is exag- 
gerated, perhaps, since full rated horse power is used for gas and electric motors; and, in general, these are not 
used so many days or hours in the year as are horses and mules. For example, the average belt horse power of 
gas tractors in 1930 was nearly 24, whereas the number of horses replaced by a tractor probably would not 
average over six. On the other hand, automobiles, which have replaced many horses, are excluded. It is signifi- 
cant that animal power on farms began to decline about 1918 and by 1930 was smaller than in 1890. Meanwhile, 
mechanical power increased at an accelerating rate, until by 1930 the power available in various engines and 
motors on farms (excluding automobiles but including trucks) was nearly three times that available in the horses 
and mules. Nevertheless, horses and mules are still supplying probably half of the power actually used on farms, 
and if prices of farm products continue low and money scarce, animal power may increase in the future rather 
than diminish. Graph from "Power and Machinery; their Part in Agriculture," by W. M. Hurst and L. M. 
Church, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Technical Bulletin, 1932. 

Production and Power. It is interesting to compare the increasing 
amount of power available on farms with the increase in agricultural 
production per farm worker. Animal power per male worker on farms has 
varied between 1.4 and 2.1 horse power during the past 80 years. (Figure 

production during the decade 1919-1929 is owing directly or indirectly to mechanization, 
and that this has been promoted principally by commercial agencies. Moreover, there 
has been no increase in production since 1926. Since there are many people who need more 
milk, more meat, more fruit and vegetables, as well as more non-agricultural goods and 
services, and are willing to work to secure these, it is clear that it is not the natural sciences 
that have failed to serve the people. 

[ 101 ] 


3.) Mechanical power per male worker increased from 0.1 horse power in 
1880 to about 5.6 horse power in 1930. Total power per worker increased 
from about 1.5 horse power in 1850 to 2.5 in 1900 and 7.4 in 1930. 51 

Crop production per male worker increased about 80 percent between 
1849 and 1899 (average 1897-1901), which was more rapid than the 
increase in power per worker; remained almost stationary (3 percent 
increase) between 1899 (average 1897-1901) and 1909 (average 1907- 
1911), as compared with an increase of about 9 percent in total power per 
worker; and advanced 16 percent between 1909 (average 1907-1911) and 
1919 (average 1917-1921), as compared with a 35 percent increase in 
power per worker, the increase being almost wholly in mechanical power. 
During the decade 1919-1929 crop production per worker increased 
nearly 12 percent and agricultural production per worker about 28 
percent, while total power available per worker increased about 100 
percent. Power on farms during the past decade, as in the two preceding 
decades, has increased much more rapidly than production per worker. 
This is owing in part to assignment of full rated horse power to tractors, 
gas engines and other mechanical sources of power on farms, which gener- 
ally are idle a larger proportion of the year than are horses and mules; 
but undoubtedly the advance of crop cultivation onto less productive 
lands per unit of power applied has been another factor. 

Possibilities of Increase in Production per Worker. Corn and cotton 
constitute about 40 percent of the total acreage of all crops in the United 
States and their production requires about half of the aggregate labor on 
crops. The corn harvester is here and apparently the mechanical cotton 
picker is not far away. Should the production of cotton become as thor- 
oughly mechanized as the production of the small grains, the average 
area of cotton per family farm would probably be over 100 acres, as 
compared with 20 acres in the eastern cotton belt and 40 acres in the 
Texas portion of the belt today. Similarly the average area of corn per 
farm in the corn belt might well exceed 100 acres as compared with 17 
acres per farm reporting corn in Ohio today, 27 acres in Indiana and 44 
acres in Illinois. 52 But there are great difficulties in the way of such 
mechanization in the corn and cotton belts, and if the change should 
come it will be a slow development. 

However, there is much labor in farming other than that on crops 
and a better way of estimating the increase in production per worker in 
agriculture when the corn harvester and cotton picker become commonly 
used, is to assume that production per worker, or, preferably per year of 
labor, will be as high in the eastern corn belt and the cotton belt as it is 

61 Data on mechanical power from W. M. Hurst, U. S. Bureau of Agricultural Engineer- 
ing. Tractors given belt power and trucks rated horse power, but automobiles excluded. 

52 The average area in wheat per farm reporting exceeded 100 acres in the Dakotas, 
Kansas and Oklahoma in 1929. 

f 102 1 


now in the western corn belt and wheat regions. In Figure 4b, it will be 
noted that during the period 1924-1928 agricultural production per year 
of labor averaged about $2,900 in Iowa, $2,800 in Nebraska, $2,200 in 
Kansas and $2,300 to $2,500 in the Dakotas and Montana. 83 In the 
eastern corn belt states production per year of labor decreased from 
$2,100 in Illinois to $1,400 in Ohio. In the cotton belt states the decrease 
was from $1,600 in Oklahoma to $900 in South Carolina. 

In the Great Lakes and middle Atlantic states average production 
per year of labor is similar to that in the eastern corn belt, $2,200 in 
Minnesota, $1,900 in Wisconsin, $1,700 in New Jersey, $1,500 in New 
York, $1,300 in Pennsylvania and a range of from $1,400 to $1,000 in 
New England. If expenditure for feed were subtracted, the figures would 
be reduced by about $300 in New England and New York. These figures 
for the northeastern states are as low as those for the cotton belt but in 
southern New England and to a lesser extent in New York, the average 
is undoubtedly lowered by the many "part time" farmers who work in 
urban factories, offices or stores; and in many localities in this north- 
eastern region income from farming is supplemented greatly by enter- 
tainment of summer boarders and tourists. Rather than a notable increase 
in mechanization and in agricultural production per worker, it seems 
likely that there will be a further development of the tourist industry 
and of part time employment in manufacturing and commerce in New 
England and the hill lands of New York. 

For the United States as a whole agricultural production per year of 
labor employed averaged about $1,500 during this five-year period (1924 
1928, with products at 1917-1926 prices). The average for the western 
corn belt and the wheat states is $2,500. Since these states possess the most 
fertile soil in the United States and the farms are already fairly large, it 
cannot be expected that the universal mechanization of agriculture would 
raise average production per labor year to as high a point as in the central 
west; but it does seem wholly possible that an increase of 33 percent may 
be achieved for the nation as a whole. This is about the same percentage 
increase as has occurred during the past 30 years. 

Production per Acre. Prior to the World War the increase in agri- 
cultural production took place principally in two ways: (1) by expansion 
of the area in crops, generally at the expense of pasture or forest, which 
are less intensive uses of the land than crop production, and the expansion 
of pasture at the expense of forest or unused land; and (2) by securing 
greater acre-yields of the crops or higher carrying capacity of the pas- 

53 Quantity of each crop sold or consumed in farm household, and quantity of animal 
products produced, multiplied by average farm price in the United States as a whole 
during the decade 1917-1926, as a common denominator. Data used were from "Farm 
Value, Gross Income and Cash Income from Farm Production," (Mimeographed), Bureau 
of Agricultural Economics, Washington, March, 1930. 

[ 103] 


FIG. 4A. Horse power available per full time agricultural worker, 1924. 


FIG. 4s. Average annual agricultural production per full time worker (year of labor), 


Almost universally in the United States increased power per worker is accompanied by increased production. 
The smallest quantity of power available per farm worker is in Alabama and Mississippi. Here an average of 
one horse or mule per worker is associated with a production of $1,000. In the Dakotas, 14 horse power per worker 
is associated with a production of $2,400. In general, each additional horse power per workerincreasesproduction 
$100 to $200. The value of feed may be nearly $100 per horse, but in most states nearly all the feed is produced 
on the farm. Livestock provide an income supplementary to crop production without involving the use of much 
power. This larger income is notable in the arid grazing states of the far west. Agricultural production data 
compiled from "Farm Value, Gross Income and Cash Income from Farm Production," Bureau of Agricultural 
Economics, Washington, March, 1930. Horse power from "An Appraisal of Power on Farms," by Cl D. 
Kinsman, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Department Bulletin no. 1348, 1925. 

[ 104 1 


tures. These two means of increasing production, particularly the expan- 
sion of agriculture across the continent, were so obvious that the existence 
of other means was scarcely recognized. Expansion of the crop area 
horizontally and the piling up of production perpendicularly seemed to 
exhaust the possibilities. That agriculture possessed a fourth, a fifth and 
even a sixth dimension was seldom surmised. 

After 1919 crop acreage declined until 1924 and was only about as 
large in 1929 as in 1919, while pasture acreage increased little if any. 
Moreover, acre-yields of the crops taken as a whole remained practically 
stationary and the productiveness of the pastures probably has declined. 
Nevertheless, agricultural production increased nearly 13 percent between 
the five-year period centered on 1919 and that centered on 1924, which 
was a greater increase than that between any adjacent five-year periods 
since the beginning of the century. It increased 5 percent more between 
the five-year periods centered on 1924 and 1929. This recent slackening in 
the rate of increase is assignable largely to exceptional weather conditions. 

Four groups of factors account for the increase in agricultural pro- 
duction since the World War: 

1. Substitution of Gasoline for Horse and Mule Feed. The loss of about 
9,000,000 horses and mules (of all ages) on farms between 1918 (the year 
of maximum) and 1932, and of probably over a million more in cities, 
has released about 30,000,000 acres of crop land, besides much pasturage. 
This land has been used not only to feed meat and milk animals, but also 
to produce cotton and wheat. Some of it lies idle. (Figure 5.) 

The use of larger units of power has also had indirect effects. It has 
permitted the production of wheat at a low price on many million acres 
of semi-arid land in the region of the Great Plains, causing corresponding 
reduction of wheat acreage east of the Missouri River. Some of this former 
wheat acreage went into corn, some into oats, hay or other crops, and 
some lay idle. The corn acreage expanded in the west, particularly in the 
northern and western corn belt; and this expansion, in conjunction with 
the corn released by the decline in horses and mules, helped to make the 
production of corn unprofitable in parts of the south and east with a 
resultant rapid decline in acreage. Part of this former corn acreage went 
into cotton and other crops and some lay idle. The increased production 
of corn and other feed crops in the northwest, and decreased consumption 
by horses, were important factors in the notable increase in the produc- 
tion of pork and milk. In the south, where the swine are, in general, less 
efficient in transforming feed into food, and where feed is more expensive, 
the number of animals declined nearly 40 percent during the decade 
January 1, 1920-January 1, 1930. 

2. Improvements in Animal Husbandry. Almost as important as the 
mechanization of crop production has been the increasing production of 

[ 105 ] 


meat and milk per unit of feed consumed. The increase in all animal 
products (other than power) since the World War has been about 23 
percent, whereas crop feed available for meat and milk animals has 
increased not more than 13 percent, while the feed from pasturage prob- 
ably has declined slightly. This increased production is assignable to the 
culling of cows, the slaughter of cattle, sheep and swine at an earlier age 
(young animals make greater gains on the same amount of feed than older 

Acreage. 1929 

FIG. 5. Crop land lying idle or fallow, 1929. 

In the western half of the map (the western portion of the Dakotas, also of Nebraska and Kansas to a less 
extent, and west) the dots represent mostly summer fallow in preparation for the grain crop the following year. 
But in the eastern half of the United States practically all the area represented, over 25,000,000 acres, is former 
crop land now lying idle. The dense area in southern Illinois and Indiana and in western Kentucky is in a region 
of fair to poor soils, where farmers grow corn, wheat and hay and, in the Kentucky portion, tobacco, but find 
it difficult to compete with better lands or larger farms elsewhere. Higher wages in the cities was another factor. 
The idle land in southern Michigan and New York also is owing in part to competition of urban industries 
for the labor of the farmers and farm hands. The idle land in the Piedmont of New Jersey, Virginia, the Carolines 
and Georgia is owing to both the factors noted above and to erosion, also to the boll weevil in South Carolina 
and Georgia. (Courtesy, U. <S. Bureau of Agricultural Economics.) 

animals), reduction in death losses by better sanitation, particularly 
among hogs, a vast shift in pork production from the south to the north- 
west, where the stock is better and more efficient in transforming feed 
into pork and lard, the use of minerals in feeding, and many other causes. 
These improvements in animal husbandry have probably added the 
equivalent of 25,000,000 acres to the crop area. 54 

64 There were about 15 percent more dairy cows in the United States in 1931 than at 
the close of the World War (average 1918-1920). Nevertheless, production of milk was 35 
or 40 percent greater. The cows eat more, but the increase in feed consumed has probably 
not been over 25 percent. Similarly, there are 9 percent fewer hogs on farms than at the 
close of the war, but the production of pork and lard, as estimated, is 18 percent greater 
(average of 1918-1920 compared with 1928-1930). 

[ 106 ] 


Looking to the future, this factor undoubtedly will continue to be of 
great importance in the economizing of farm land, for culling of dairy 
cows and reduction of losses of pigs through sanitation and better feeding 
can and probably will continue for many years. Gains through slaughter 
at an earlier age and through shifts in production from south to north 
will undoubtedly be less important than during the past decade, because 
such shifts probably are nearly completed. 

3. Shifts from Less Productive toward More Productive Crops per Acre. 
Less important, yet a significant factor, particularly from the standpoint 
of the crop land requirements of the nation, has been the shift from corn 
to cotton in the south, 55 from wheat to corn in the west north central 
states, and from grain and hay to fruit and vegetables in several areas, 
notably California. There is no assurance that these shifts will continue 
in the future. 

4. Shifts from Less Productive toward More Productive Animals per 
Unit of Feed Consumed. Likewise, there has been a shift from beef 
cattle to dairy cattle, hogs and chickens, which produce much more food 
per unit of feed consumed. 56 During the next few years this factor may 
sink into insignificance or disappear, owing to the probable upward trend 
of the beef cattle cycle ; but later, when the number of beef cattle declines, 
this factor is again likely to become of some importance. 

Practically all of the increase in agricultural production per acre since 
the World War may be assigned to these four factors, and most of it to 
the decline in horses and mules and improvements in animal husbandry. 
These two factors alone have added to the effective crop area the equiva- 
lent of about 55,000,000 acres, an increase of about 18 percent. Should 
these factors be only half as effective in increasing production per 
acre during the next decade there will be little need to increase the arable 
area in order to provide for the expected population, assuming no in- 
crease in immigration. 57 

Outlook for Crop Yields. In the future, it seems probable that a 
greater use of fertilizers will supplement the four factors just noted. 
Fertilizers have become very cheap, and the price of nitrogen, the most 
expensive of the ingredients in mixed fertilizers, seems likely to fall still 
further with improvements in the new processes of production. Moreover, 

66 The progress of diversification in the south prompted by the colleges of agriculture 
and other agencies, together with recent price factors have slowed down this tendency. 
See also discussion of shifts in crops and their consequences in Chap. X. 

66 To produce 1,400,000 calories (the average annual disappearance of foodstuffs 
per person in the United States) of the following foods requires the acreage indicated (at 
average United States yields per acre) : 

Beef and veal, 11.0 acres of crops and 2.5 acres of pasture. 

Milk, 2.35 acres of crops and 1.6 acres of pasture. 

Pork and lard, 3.1 acres of crops and 0.1 acre of pasture. 

67 For population estimates, see Chap. I. 

f 107 1 


the trend toward fertilizers of greater concentration has already resulted 
in a notable saving in freight charges and in the cost of application to the 
soil. Also important has been the research work of experiment stations 
and the National Fertilizer Association in method and time of applica- 
tion. The use of mineral fertilizers is spreading from the eastern states, 
in several of which acre-yields have been increased 50 to 75 percent dur- 
ing the past 30 years, into the central states; and the evidence is conclu- 
sive as to the advantage of using fertilizers on some of the fertile soils in 
Iowa at a normal level of prices for farm products. 


The depletion of soil fertility and the advance in agricultural technique 
have greatly affected the utilization of the land in large areas. 

Increase in Acreage. 1919-1929 

FIG. 6. Land in harvested crops. Increase in acreage, 1919-1929. 

The increase in crop area between 1919 and 1929 occurred mostly in the semi-arid portion of the Great 
Plains Region, where the tractor, combine and other labor saving machinery made it possible to grow grain 
profitably at the prices then prevailing. The building of good roads and the coming of the auto truck may 
have facilitated this development. A notable increase occurred also in southwestern Minnesota and north 
central Iowa and in the Mississippi River bottoms of Mississippi and northeastern Arkansas. In these areas 
much land had been drained during the decade but most of the Minnesota and Iowa gain was owing to a severe 
drought in 1919 which greatly reduced the acreage harvested. The increase in the 1,130 counties in the United 
States reporting an increase exceeded 33,000,000 acres. (Courtesy, U. S. Bureau of Agricultural Economics.) 

The Trend in Agricultural Land Utilization. In many parts of the 
United States rapidly increasing agricultural production per worker and 
per acre, occurring concurrently with the diminishing growth of popula- 
tion and declining exports of farm products, while domestic per capita 
consumption remained almost stationary, has forced vast geographic 
shifts in production both of crops and of live stock products and has 
accelerated the migration from the farms to the cities and villages. 

[ 108 ] 


Some Causes of the Regional Shift in Crop Area. The increase in crop 
acreage since the World War has occurred mostly in the Great Plains 
region, a grassland in which the fertility of the soil has been increased 
through centuries by the decaying grass roots, and in which the leaching 
of the soil has been greatly reduced by the moderate to low precipitation, 
particularly in winter. (Figure 6.) The decline in crop area has occurred 
mostly in that portion of the United States which was forested originally 
i.e., eastern Texas and Oklahoma, much of Missouri, southern Illinois, 
practically all of Indiana and Michigan and eastward to the Atlantic. 


Decrease in Acreage. 1919-1929 


FIG. 7. Land in harvested crops. Decrease in acreage, 1910-1929. 

A decrease in crop area of over 32,000,000 acres occurred between 1919 and 1929 in 1,940 counties located 
mostly in the originally forested portion of the United States. The outstanding decrease was in the Piedmont 
of Georgia and South Carolina and in a belt extending from southern New England across New York, southern 
Michigan, Ohio, southern Indiana and Illinois and most of Kentucky and Missouri, to eastern Oklahoma and 
central Texas. Part of this land is used for pasture, part lies idle, and part is growing up to brush. The soils 
in these areas are, in general, poor or fair, but some are good. Much of the land is hilly or steeply rolling, while 
many of the farms are small and poorly adapted to large scale machinery. (Courtesy, U. S. Bureau of Agricul- 
tural Economics.) 

(Figure 7.) In this region, the soils are, in general, less fertile than in the 
prairie and plains regions ; and there is also much hilly and steeply rolling 
land, some of which has been badly eroded. Other soils have been depleted 
of fertility by crop removal or destruction of the humus. 58 Yet it is 
probable that this shift in crop acreage has been induced, for the most 
part, by the mechanization of agriculture, which has lowered the cost of 

68 The percentage decrease in crop acreage between 1919 and 1924 in the eastern United 
States (17 Great Plains and far western states excluded) tabulated by counties classified 
according to average value of farm land per acre in 1920 was as follows: under $25 an acre: 
12 percent decrease; $25-$50: 10 percent; $50-$100: 9 percent; $100-$200: 5 percent; over 
$200: 1.5 percent. 

f 109 1 


production, particularly of the cereals, below the level that the less 
favored areas can bear. Mechanization has been promoted in the west 
by the more level as well as more fertile land and by the fact that in the 
settlement of the prairies and plains most of the land needed only plowing 
to be ready for crops, hence farms were occupied in much larger units 
than in the east where forests had to be removed and stumps grubbed out. 
It required the good part of a life time in the east to clear 100 acres of 
land and prepare it for crops. All along the prairie margin the average 
acreage of improved land per farm usually doubles within a few miles 
from the former margin of the forest. In the east it is likely that the 
smaller size of farms and the large loss of investment in buildings (often 
50 percent of the farm value) involved in consolidating farms into the 
larger units essential to the economic use of large machinery, have been 
as important factors in retarding mechanization as the unfavorable topog- 
raphy. Moreover, the development of dairying and other intensive 
forms of livestock husbandry has increased the labor requirements on 
small farms, and counterbalanced in part the tendency toward mechaniza- 
tion and larger farms. Furthermore, dairymen and poultrymen in the 
east can generally buy grain from the west more cheaply than they can 
raise it with the most modern machinery. Progress in mechanization of 
agriculture in the east will doubtless continue to be slow. The progress 
will be still slower if urban unemployment persists or wages remain low. 

In the cotton belt mechanization may be more rapid, particularly 
wherever the plantation system of farm ownership and operation is 
extensively developed, and provided a successful cotton picker is placed 
on the market. The price of cotton or wages may need to rise also to near 
the pre-depression level. The large units of land are already in existence, 
and relief from the responsibility of furnishing a livelihood to tens and 
sometimes hundreds of tenants and croppers will be a powerful motive 
with many land owners, particularly if the times are prosperous and the 
labor can find employment elsewhere. These large plantations are usually 
located on the more level and more fertile land. Should the use of the 
cotton picker become common, the reaction upon cotton producers in 
the steeply rolling or hilly districts will undoubtedly be severe. The cotton 
picker may compel a migration of a magnitude unparalleled in our history 
from the hill lands as well as from the level lands of the cotton belt to 
the cities. 

Rural Migration. Since the World War most of the migration from 
the farms to the cities has come from the south and the eastern corn belt. 
(Figure 8.) The future migration is likely to be principally a continuation 
and possibly an accentuation of present trends. The industrial revolution 
which has required a century in the north may occur in a much shorter 
period in the south. When it is accomplished, this region, the principal 

[ no] 


source of migrants to the cities, will be depleted of a large proportion of its 
young people. 

It is inevitable that serious social as well as economic problems will 
arise during the process of consolidation and abandonment of farms. Cost 

Total Net Migration 

S. 096.000* 




FIG. 8. Approximate net migration of rural farm population, January 1, 1920-April 1, 


About 60 percent of the net migration from the farms during the decade 1920-1930 was from the south 
(states south of the Potomac and Ohio rivers, and including Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas). 
Negroes constituted one-third of this migration from southern farms. A majority of these migrants were between 
15 and 30 years of age. The birth rate is high among southern rural people, both white and negro and economic 
opportunity is less than in the north. But if it costs only $2,000 to rear and educate a child to the age of fifteen 
($135 a year and no allowance for interest), these 3,500,000 migrants from farms in the southern states represent 
a contribution of roughly $7,000,000,000 made during the decade by the farm population of the south to other 
parts of the nation, mostly to the cities in both the north and the south. Hundreds of millions more dollars have 
been transferred from the rural to the urban population in the settlement of estates, or in the payment of 
interest on mortgages that have resulted from such settlement of estates. The flow from farms was heavy also 
in the eastern and southern corn belt (Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri). In California, Massachusetts and 
Rhode Island, on the other hand, more people moved to farms than from farms. 

The migration is estimated by comparing the number of persons in each 5 year age group in the rural farm 
population in 1930 with the number in each age group 10 years younger in 1920 that would be expected to sur- 
vive, using expectation of life figures based on comparison 1920 with 1930 of the native whites in such age groups 
in the United States as a whole and of negroes for the negro population in the southern states. Migration of 
children born on farms during the decade is not included. 

per capita of providing schools and other social services will tend to 
increase. 59 In some cases the county or town can aid the individual in 
making readjustments, as for example, by moving isolated farm families 
to better locations near other farmers, in order to avoid the expense of 

69 In Kansas, for example, consolidation of farms, the decline in births and other factors 
resulted in almost complete elimination of children of school age from certain districts. 
There were six schools for which a teacher had been employed by the state but for which 
there were no pupils in 1927-1928, and there were 363 schools with fewer than six pupils 
each. (Report of the State School Code Commission of Kansas, June, 1928, vol. 1, p. 10.) 
For other effects of these factors, see Chap. X. 

[ in 1 


maintaining a road and school for the sole use of one or two families. In 
other cases, the state must step in because the undertaking becomes too 
large for the county to finance, as, for example, the establishment of state 
forests. But the extensive regional shifts in land utilization which appear 
imminent in parts of the south will in all probability involve problems 
too vast for the state to solve. It seems likely that the cooperation of the 
federal government must be obtained if serious losses of soil resources as 
well as development of undesirable social conditions are to be avoided. 
After the 1930 drought temporary aid was extended in the form of federal 
loans for seed and supplies. It is being extended again in 1932 because 
of the distress occasioned by the low prices for farm products. 60 The need 
of a more permanent form of relief may be realized as the low producing 
power of much of the land in the areas receiving loans becomes apparent. 

The agricultural occupation of new lands may be left to individual 
initiative in a period of rapidly increasing population and expanding 
demand for farm products ; but agricultural recession raises new problems, 
many of which are beyond the power of the individual to solve. We must 
realize that the situation with reference to low grade land is not transitory 
but seems likely to persist for many years to come. 61 

Clearly there is need to plan for the future and develop a program of 
land utilization national, state and local to mitigate the suffering 
incident to the slow abandonment of thousands of low producing farms; 
to provide the operators of these farms and their families with better 
social services and to utilize more effectively not only their land but also 
their labor and intelligence. 62 Doubtless most of these farms are of the 

60 In 1930 Congress appropriated $47,000,000 for drought relief, plus $20,000,000 for 
agricultural rehabilitation, of which over $47,000,000 was loaned to 385,192 persons by 
the Secretary of Agriculture. Nearly $22,000,000 had been repaid by February 1, 1932. 
In 1932, the appropriation was $50,000,000. 

61 The magnitude of the so-called submarginal land problem is suggested by census 
data recently issued, which show that in 1929 there were about 400,000 farms, or 6.6 
percent of all farms, which produced less than $250 worth of products; 518,000, or 8.6 
percent of all farms, produced $250 to $399 worth of products; 766,000, or 12.7 percent, 
produced $400 to $599; 1,246,000, or 21.8 percent, produced $600 to $999; 938,000, or 
15.6 percent, produced $1,000 to $1,499. Where to draw the line of submarginality is 
uncertain, but it is worthy of note that 28 percent of the farms produced less than $600 
worth of products in 1929, and 49 percent produced less than $1,000. These figures include 
not only products sold, but those consumed on the farm as well; the values may be some- 
what depressed by the fact that the census was taken on April 1, 1930, and some farmers 
may have based their estimates on prices of that date rather than on amounts actually 
received. The aggregate value for all farms, however, is only about 4 percent below the 
estimate of the U. S. Bureau of Agricultural Economics. 

62 The Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture, realizing the need of 
developing a national policy and local programs of land utilization, joined with the Associa- 
tion of Land Grant Colleges in calling a conference at Chicago in November, 1931, out of 
which have grown two committees, the National Land Use Planning Committee, and the 
National Advisory and Legislative Committee on Land Use. The former committee has 
appointed eleven sub-committees of specialists to report on various phases of the subject. 


self-sufficing type and yield only a small surplus for sale in the nation's 
markets, but this surplus tends to depress the prices of agricultural 
products in general. 

Urban Migration. During the present economic depression some of 
these farms have provided a haven for numbers of unemployed from the 
cities. The sudden reversal of the direction of migration has raised 
doubts as to whether the nation may not be entering a new era wherein 
the cities will decrease and the open country will increase in population 
through the establishment of thousands, if not millions, of new farms by 
these urban migrants or at least that the flow from farm to city will 
cease. 63 Any comprehensive program of land utilization will be subject to 
modification when the future direction of this rural-urban migration 
becomes clear. 

Although in a time of rapid transition it is unsafe to rely upon fore- 
casts, it may be helpful to consider some facts bearing upon the question 
as to whether the present farmward migration of the unemployed will 
prove transitory. More farmers are not needed to provide food or fibers 
for the nation. For a decade, during much of which the city populations 
were extraordinarily prosperous and were able to consume an unprec- 
edented quantity of the more expensive foods, such as meat and milk, 
fruit and vegetables, there has been, nevertheless, a distressing surplus 
of farm products. Moreover, most of the migrants from the cities are 
poorly provided with capital and many lack farm experience. It can 
scarcely be expected that more than a few exceptional individuals will be 
successful in developing a commercial type of farming in competition 
with the experienced farmers in the field at present. Instead, it is probable 
that these urban migrants will engage in a self-sufficing type of farming. 64 

63 The magnitude of the "back to the land" movement, up to the present at least, 
appears to have been exaggerated in the popular press. The best estimates for New York 
State indicate that migrants to the farms in 1931 (February 1, 1931-February 1, 1932) 
merely balanced migrants from the farms, the farm population increasing by the excess 
of births over deaths. In Pennsylvania, 85 percent of the houses on farms were occupied 
by families engaged in agriculture on June 1, 1928 and 85.7 percent on June 1, 1932. Farm 
houses occupied by persons not engaged in agriculture increased from 8.8 to 10.3 percent, 
and vacant houses decreased from 6.2 to 4.0 percent. However, in Arkansas a survey 
indicates that farm families increased about 8,000 during 1931, and in Kentucky the increase 
was similar. For the entire United States the U. S. Bureau of Agricultural Economics 
estimates the movement to farms in 1931 at 1,679,000 and from farms at 1,472,000. The 
surplus of births over deaths on farms was about 441,000. The net increase in farm popula- 
tion, therefore, was roughly 648,000. In 1930 there was a small net increase in population, 
but prior to 1930 farm population had been decreasing in nearly every year for a decade, 
and probably longer. 

64 The 1930 census of agriculture included, for the first time, inquiries on the value of 
various groups of farm products sold or traded and of the contribution of the farm to the 
family living (garden produce, milk, meat, etc.). On the basis of these answers all farms 
were classified into 16 types and an "unclassified" group. One of these types was called 
the "self-sufficing." It included those farms in which the contribution of the farm to the 
family living exceeded half the value of all farm products and only those farms producing 

[ 113 1 


This is the type of farming which has been slowly diminishing during the 
past century, at least in relative importance, under the competition of 
commercial agriculture, and for this trend to be reversed would appear to 
require either a persistent unemployment or a much lower level of urban 
wages than in recent decades. Otherwise the migrant farmer, or his 
children, will be attracted back to the city. 

There may develop, however, an accelerated migration of urban 
industry into rural territory, with many of the employes of the factories 
having an acre or two of land and cultivating their own gardens, besides 
keeping chickens, and sometimes a cow. Such a development would be 
greatly facilitated by a shorter work day. The utilization of spare time 
would probably prove profitable in most cases because of disposal of 
surplus products to neighbors at almost the equivalent of retail prices, 
whereas full time farming on a small acreage with sale at wholesale prices 
might prove unprofitable. Greater economic stability would also result. 
This might provide an incentive, in addition to that of greater freedom 
from labor troubles, sufficient to induce the owners of industries to locate 
their plants in rural communities. 

The possibility of such a development will need to be taken into 
account in working out plans or programs for the better use of the land, 
particularly in the northeastern states, the Great Lakes states, the south- 
ern Appalachian and Piedmont regions and in other areas where industry 
is likely to develop because of peculiar advantages of transportation, 
proximity to large markets, water power, cheap fuel or low labor costs. 
But such industrial developments are likely to be local in their influence; 
in most of the agricultural communities of the nation notably those in 
the central and western corn belt, in the wheat regions, in much of the 
cotton belt and in most of the irrigated areas of the western states there 
seems to be little reason to anticipate that the trend toward greater 
production per agricultural worker, involving in many cases larger farms 
and more machinery, will not be resumed soon. 

The Trend in Forest Land Utilization. The area of forest and cut over 
land in the United States is about the same as that of improved farm 
land (or of crop land plus plowable pasture), or approximately 500,000,000 
acres. About one-half of this forest and cut over land is in the south 
(including Kentucky and southern Missouri), one-eighth is in the north- 
eastern states (including eastern Ohio), nearly one-eighth is in the Great 
Lakes states, mostly in the northern portions, and over one-quarter is in 
the west, mostly in the Rocky Mountain and Pacific Coast regions. How- 
ever, 80 percent of the nation's saw timber stumpage is in the west, and 

less than $750 worth of products. The average value per farm of all products produced 
on these "self-sufficing" farms ranged from $251 in South Dakota to $645 in Delaware. 
Part time farms were excluded from the tabulation of self-sufficing farms. 

r 114 1 


two-fifths of this is in the national forests. In the east, about five percent 
of the forest land is publicly owned, one-third in national forests and two- 
thirds in state and municipal forests. 

Forest Resources. Of the 500,000,000 acres of forest and cut over 
land about 100,000,000 acres bear virgin saw timber (the remnant of 
possibly 800,000,000 acres that existed two centuries ago), 120,000,000 
acres are contributing at present only material of cordwood size, another 
90,000,000 acres are growing saw timber, and the balance of 190,000,000 
acres consists of land bearing growth below cordwood size, nearly half of 
which is restocking poorly or not at all. 65 In the virgin forest decay is 
probably balancing growth, and on the devastated areas there is practi- 
cally no growth. Consequently, on only about 300,000,000 acres is the 
forest stand increasing appreciably, and growth of saw timber (in excess of 
decay) is taking place on only about 90,000,000 acres. The annual growth 
on the 300,000,000 acres is estimated at about 25 cubic feet per acre, 
which is about half that which prevails in well cared for forests in Europe. 

Trends in Consumption of Forest Products. Twelve years ago it was 
estimated that the annual cut, including waste and destruction by insects 
and fires, was four times the annual growth, and a severe shortage of 
lumber was anticipated in a few decades. 66 Recent estimates indicate a 
somewhat lower ratio of consumption to growth, yet the drain on saw 
timber particularly is suggestive of future scarcity. It is still too early to 
predict the effect of the declining birth rate and the gradual but apparently 
permanent decline in consumption per capita on future timber require- 
ments. At present the surplus of lumber is as great as of agricultural 
products and distress in the lumbering industry is, perhaps, even greater 
than in agriculture. 67 

It appears that the annual lumber consumption per capita has 
declined from about 500 board feet at the beginning of the century to 
about 300 board feet in the years immediately preceding the current 
depression. Should lumber rise above its present price relationship to other 
building materials (and the present price is unprofitable for many, if not 

65 "A Special Report to the Timber Conservation Board," January 30, 1932, prepared 
by the U. S. Forest Service and issued in multigraph form February 25, 1932. 

66 U. S. Forest Service, Report on Senate Resolution 311, Timber Depletion, Lumber 
Prices, Lumber Exports, and Concentration of Timber Ownership, June 1, 1920, pp. 37-39. 

67 It should be recognized, however, that the surplus is of lumber production, and not 
of timber growth. R. Y. Stuart, in U. S. Forest Service, Report of the Forester to the Secretary 
of Agriculture for 1931, p. 4, notes: "While industrial disorganization, market demoraliza- 
tion, and business instability are widespread throughout the industry, the Pacific North- 
west is the main seat of the disorder. Its cause is the attempt to liquidate in a short period a 
resource which is undoubtedly capable of producing forever an annual output equal to 
the normal production of such years as 1926 to 1929. The wastage in this liquidation policy, 
both from the standpoint of the depletion charges involved and from the standpoint of 
current overproduction for the market, is proving too great a strain on the financial re- 
sources of the industry." 


most, lumber companies) the tendency will be to substitute not only 
brick, steel or concrete for lumber, but also to use less lumber and more 
plaster board, bagasse products, strawboard, cardboard and similar 

Tax Delinquency. Largely as a consequence of the low prices of 
lumber and the pressure of carrying charges on stumpage acquired in 
years past, serious economic problems confront private owners of timber 
land. If the situation persists, these problems are likely to be passed on 
to the county or state government by the weaker lumber companies and 
other land owners. Tax delinquency on forest and cut over land is increas- 
ing rapidly; and, as with farm lands, delinquency tends to raise tax rates, 
engendering further delinquency. This matter is so well stated in the 
Report of the Forester for 1931 that an extended quotation is justified. 
Although his statement is made with reference to the western states, it 
is also true of many, if not most, states in the east : 

The conclusion seems inescapable that much ... of this [private forest] 
land will eventually revert to the States or to the counties. Cut over lands are 
already becoming tax delinquent on an alarming scale in several states. Timber 
is one of the principal sources of western tax revenues. As the timber is cut off 
the value of the land is greatly lowered. A good deal of the uncut timber cannot 
be converted into lumber with recovery of the cost involved, at the level of lumber 
prices that prevailed during the five years prior to the 1929 slump. There is no 
reason to anticipate a rise in lumber prices that will ever enable the private 
owners to recover their carrying charges from now to the time of cutting, on the 
lands of lowest value. From this source as well as through the abandonment of 
cut over lands, a compulsory enlargement of public ownership is probable . . . 

For the State to take abandoned cut over lands and timberlands that no 
private owner is willing to continue to hold, block these lands up into practicable 
administrative units, protect them against fire, meet the other costs of adminis- 
tration and reforestation, and provide some equivalent to the local communities 
for their loss of the taxes formerly paid, will mean the assumption of very heavy 
burdens. In short, the problem of forest-land stabilization in the Western States 
is much greater than the States are prepared to cope with unaided. 68 

Low Grade Forest Land. The reversion of low grade agricultural land 
to brush and eventually to forest appears likely to increase indirectly the 
acreage of low grade forest land, and may aggravate the situation for 
owners of such land. In 1929 there were 25,000,000 acres of "crop land 
lying idle or fallow" in the sections of the United States which were 
forested originally. If all this land should revert to forest, and much, if not 
most, of it is headed that way, it would materially increase the area 
growing saw timber. The outlook for private forestry on the poorer 
grades of forest land is not bright. 

Happily there are other functions of low grade forest land than the 
production of wood, particularly of forest land in public ownership: 
68 Report of the Forester, 1931, op. cit., pp. 5, 6 and 7. 

[ 116 ] 


1. Forests protect watersheds, retarding erosion, lessening the severity 
of floods and the silting of navigable rivers. In the west forests regulate 
the flow of water for irrigation purposes; and in the east large areas of 
forest are required to provide a pure water supply for the many cities. 
Both in the east and in the west forests aid greatly in equalizing the flow 
of streams which is so important in waterpower development. 

2. Forests provide recreation and aesthetic satisfactions and con- 
tribute to the advancement of public health. In 1930, for example, it is 
estimated that nearly 32,000,000 persons visited the national forests. 
Three-fourths of these, however, were merely transient motorists. 69 

3. Forests preserve wild life, particularly fur bearing animals and 
wild fowl. It is estimated by the United States Biological Survey that the 
normal value to the trapper of furs produced in the United States, nearly 
all from forest or marsh land, is $75,000,000. 

The trend appears to be toward the use of the poorer grades of forest 
land for these purposes rather than for the production of wood, and it is 
probable that much of the forest and cut over land which is reverting to 
the county or state through tax delinquency will be developed primarily 
for such uses. Recently Michigan has set aside over 600,000 acres of tax 
delinquent land as state forest, while New York has appropriated 
$19,000,000 for the purchase of submarginal farm land and the further 
development of state forests and parks. Massachusetts has recently 
purchased over 100,000 acres and Connecticut over 50,000 acres. Idaho, 
South Dakota and Washington in 1931 authorized counties to make over 
lands to the government for additions to the national forests. 70 

Forest Policy. It is evident that in the originally forested portions of 
the United States agricultural and forest land policies are intimately 
related. In many cases low grade agricultural land may become high grade 

69 Report of the Forester, 1931, op. cit., p. 49; see also Chap. XVIII. R. Zon says, "In 
each of the Lake states Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota the tourists leave annually 
from $80,000,000 to $100,000,000." (U. S. Department of Agriculture, Proceedings of the 
National Conference on Land Utilization, Chicago, III., Nov. 19-21, 1931, Washington, 1932, 
p. 80.) 

70 Zon's opinion as to what should be done is of interest: "In the three Lake States of 
Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota alone, there must be close to 25,000,000 acres of tax 
delinquent land in different stages of abandonment. The State or county, as a general rule, 
does not want this land and resists by every means taking over title to it . . . 

" If the Federal government, in cooperation with States and counties, could work out 
for each State a definite plan of acquiring these tax delinquent lands, much of it could be 
returned into public ownership, from which it should never have been allowed to pass. 
In blocking out such areas for forest and conservation purposes, a selective process must 
be used. We may as well admit that there are submarginal forest lands just as there 
are submarginal agricultural lands. It may be several generations before this submarginal 
forest land can be economically developed even by public efforts. Such land should be 
given protection against fires, but beyond that it should be allowed, for the time being, 
to drift as idle land, leaving it to nature to restore it to some form of usefulness." (Zon, 
op. cit., pp. 81-82). 

[ 117] 


forest land. Both probably will remain to a large extent in private 
ownership. Fair and poor forest land, on the other hand, are tending 
toward public ownership, where it is possible to find uses in addition to 
that of wood production. But owing to the long time required to grow 
saw timber and the disinclination of individuals to assume the risks 
involved, some of the better quality forest land is also likely to become 
publicly owned. This appears desirable from the long time national 
viewpoint, since public agencies can assure that continuity of policy 
which is so important in the development of forest land. Such develop- 
ment, by providing supplementary employment in the forests and by the 
maintenance of local woodworking industries, will prevent the abandon- 
ment of much agricultural land in regions of hilly surface or poor soils. 
The development of public forests in many areas appears to be the only 
adequate solution of the problem of agricultural recession. 


The advance in agricultural technique, in association with the decline 
in population growth and other factors, has already reversed the trend of 
agricultural development over a large part of the country. Moreover, there 
is every likelihood that both the advance in technique and the decline 
in population growth will continue for some years. Only yesterday a 
buoyant spirit pervaded the American nation. The free land in the west 
beckoned the young man with the promise of a home and the accumula- 
tion of a competence. Europe afforded a remunerative market for the 
agricultural surplus. The rapidly growing cities also offered opportunities 
to acquire wealth. Immigrants were welcome to share in the political 
equality, in the economic opportunity afforded by the cities, and in the 
joy of exploiting the greatest contiguous area of arable land in the world, 
with the possible exception of the Russian steppes and woodlands. Yet 
now, when the agricultural conquest of the continent is scarcely more 
than half complete, 71 and when the trend of per capita income and 
wealth is upward 72 (prior to 1930), the situation has become so altered 
that the former land policies are clearly obsolete. These were based, 
perhaps unconsciously, on the assumption of a rapidly increasing popula- 
tion and need for farm products in Europe as well as in the United States 
and on a stationary agricultural technique; whereas the prospect at pres- 
ent is for an advancing technique and a stationary population. A new 
land policy evidently is needed. 

71 Crops occupy less than 40 percent of the land physically capable of crop production, 
and only about half of such land has been "improved." See U. S. Department of Agricul- 
ture, 1923 Yearbook, pp. 427-431. 

72 See King, W. I., The National Income and Its Purchasing Power, National Bureau of 
Economic Research, New York, 1930, pp. 87, 91. 

[ US] 


Concentration of Crop Production on the Good Land. The outlook 
for land utilization in the United States is, briefly, toward an increase of 
crop acreage, mostly at the expense of pasture, in the more level or fertile 
areas, where tractors and associated machinery and the increasing use of 
fertilizer are likely to lower still further the cost of crop production 
relative to the cost in the less level or less fertile areas. In many of these 
fertile or level areas most of the crops are sold rather than fed (the cotton 
belt, wheat regions, central Illinois section of the corn belt and other areas). 
Here the trend doubtless will continue to be toward larger farms. Con- 
tinued progress in animal husbandry and use of fertilizer on pastures will 
tend, likewise, to concentrate production of animal products on the better 
land. Livestock farms, however, may not increase in area, but will tend to 
increase in productive capital. Near the large cities, and elsewhere in 
localities having exceptional transportation or marketing facilities for 
perishable products or possessing peculiar advantages of climate, agri- 
cultural production is likely to become still more intense and lead to the 
establishment of many small farms. 73 In other words, production will 
tend to concentrate on the more level, more fertile or more favorably 
located lands, and these will be cultivated more intensively, not neces- 
sarily by more labor but mostly by the use of more capital. 

Reversion of Poorer Land to Pasture, Forest or Waste. For a few 
years the total crop acreage may remain stationary or even increase 
slightly. 74 It is then likely to decrease as the rate of population growth 
declines (assuming no great increase in agricultural exports). Pasture 
lands will increase probably in the less desirable areas as crop land 
decreases, but since much pasture in hilly, eroded or infertile areas in the 
humid portions of the nation will revert to brush and eventually to forest, 
this increase in pasture acreage may be transitory. Such a reversion to 
forest has been in progress for several decades in parts of the Appalachian 
region; and during the past decade, for the first time in our history, 
the area of forest and brush land increased materially in the United 
States as a whole. The reversion of crop land to pasture and forest will 

73 The census of 1930 shows a large increase in small farms during the decade, those of 
under 3 acres increasing 111.3 percent, of 3 to 9 acres 17.5 percent, and of 10 to 19 acres 
10.2 percent. Many of these small farms are "part time" farms, located near cities. It is 
not unlikely that the further development of good roads and the increasing desire of many 
urban families to reduce the cost of living, as well as to obtain greater economic security, 
will result in a rapid increase in these semi-suburban "farms," as well as in the number of 
the rural non-farm population. The tendency to locate factories in small cities and villages 
will greatly aid this movement. 

74 If agricultural production per acre in crops increases during the next ten years as it has 
during the last ten years and domestic consumption per capita and exports of farm products 
remain constant, while population increases 9,000,000, about 5 percent smaller crop area, 
or 18,000,000 acres less than at present would be sufficient. But if production per acre 
remains constant during the next decade, as it has during the last five years, about 7 percent 
larger crop area, or 25,000,000 acres more than at present will be needed. 

[ 119 ] 


not be a new development but it seems likely to become more extensive 
and general. 

Expansion in Non-agricultural Uses of Land. The ramifying net- 
work of good roads, use of the automobile and auto bus, together with the 
construction of electric power lines and the almost universal availability 
of the telephone, is resulting in an increasing number of urban workers 
living in the open country or in suburban villages. Such residential use 
may, during the next decade or two, require several million acres of land. 
The multiplication of golf courses and the establishment of new national 
and state parks will take a few million more acres. Many factories have 
already moved from cities to rural villages, and there are indications that 
such a movement may increase. Some experiments suggest the possibility 
of combining work in winter in the factory with work in summer on the 
farm. 75 The recent census revealed a surprisingly large number of farmers 
who were supplementing their income from agriculture by part time 
work in other occupations. 76 All of these movements, strengthened by a 
desire on the part of the people for greater economic stability, may result 
in the development of a village life in the near future which will combine 
many advantages of the city with most of the satisfactions of the farm. 

Such a development would contribute to the solution of one of the 
most serious agricultural problems. Progress in agricultural technique 
has involved continued drain of rural wealth to the cities, not only the 
investment represented in the rearing and education of young people 
who leave the farms, but also the wealth that passes in the distribution 
of estates to the children. 77 This is a vast amount, difficult to estimate, 
but probably of the magnitude of a quarter, a third, or, possibly, a half 
of the total value of farm property in each generation. There has been no 
counterflow of wealth from the cities of comparable magnitude. The 
development of the villages would greatly diminish this drain. If full time 
or part time employment could be found in a nearby village for the son or 
daughter whose labor is not needed on the farm, not only would this 
wealth represented by an educated individual and that transmitted 
through inheritance be retained in the community, but also such wealth as 
the son or daughter might accumulate. 

Such accumulation of wealth would provide the means to improve 
living conditions in the community houses provided with modern 
conveniences and more beautiful grounds, better roads, schools and 

76 Notably Ford's experiment at Dearborn, Michigan. 

76 Nearly a third of the farmers in 1929 worked for pay at jobs not connected with the 
farms they operated, and a ninth worked more than 100 days in the year on such jobs. 

77 See R. M. Rutledge, "Relation of the Flow of Population to the Problem of Rural 
and Urban Economic Inequality" Journal of Farm Economics, July, 1930, and C. J. Galpin, 
(U. S. Bureau of Agricultural Economics) "Leakage of Agricultural Wealth to Cities" 
address, Institute of Politics, Williamstown, Massachusetts, August 13, 1925 (unpublished 
but available on request). 

[ 120 ] 


churches. This would tend to attract city people who might wish to spend 
their vacations or their declining years in the country. More and more 
people are living where they want to live. The development of the village 
may not only diminish the flow of wealth from rural to urban areas, but 
even induce a counterflow consisting largely of expenditures for recreation 
by the young and middle aged and for enjoyment by those who have 
retired from active life. The prosperity of New England and of California 
(prior to the recent universal depression), to cite examples, was maintained 
in no small measure by such a flow of wealth from other areas. 

Summary. This is the outlook, but it is not a prophecy. The uncer- 
tainties in the situation changes in our immigration policy, changes in 
tariff policy both in the United States and abroad, the possibility of rapid 
industrialization in the Orient, with development of an effective demand 
for farm products are too great to permit a definite conclusion. More- 
over, if urban unemployment becomes chronic the present trend in land 
utilization in many localities may be materially altered. 

Of these things we may be sure: that the soil resources are being 
depleted and often wasted; that there will be further progress in agri- 
cultural technique; that there will be notable regional and local shifts in 
production; that a decreasing proportion of the population engaged in 
full time farming will be able to produce plenty for everyone in the nation 
to eat; that both public and private action will be necessary to solve the 
vast problems of land utilization; and that the family farm and individual 
initiative will remain characteristic features of American agriculture. 



IN the preceding chapter stress is laid upon technological develop- 
ments in agriculture, in mining and in the production of power. 
Science and technology are the most dynamic elements of our ma- 
terial culture. Through technology men transform the physical environ- 
ment, so that men, natural resources and inventions and discoveries are 
the primary factors which determine the wealth, standards of living and 
well being of a people. 

This chapter surveys inventions and discoveries in applied science, 
describing as an example the social effects of a single invention, discussing 
the action and reaction between inventions and society as a whole and 
concluding with a discussion of the problems created. 


Mechanical inventions and scientific discoveries are included in a 
study of social trends because they are associated with so many changes 
which are purely social. Thus the invention of the automobile and its 
wide diffusion have aided the growth of suburbs, affected the size of 
villages, reduced railroad traffic, changed the nature of much hotel busi- 
ness, modified manners and morals, increased crime, diminished the 
employment of domestic servants, changed marketing areas and caused 
international difficulties over oil resources. And these are only a few of 
its manifold influences. There are many other inventions of revolutionary 
social significance such as the airplane, the sound picture, the radio and 
the tractor. Social changes of today are connected with inventions of the 
past and inventions of today will no doubt foreshadow the social changes 
of the future. 

Inventions have been rapidly growing in numbers in the modern age 
but this has not always been the case. In the stone ages there were few 
mechanical contrivances, some chipped stones, a few tools for trapping, 
some cooking utensils and the like. Invention was so rare that it required 
thousands of years to bring about a new method for cutting flint. But as 
time passed, inventions began to accumulate, since relatively few were 
lost to the world, and new inventions became more frequent, in part 
because the heritage of previous centuries meant that there was more 

[ 122 ] 


with which to work. An invention cannot be made unless the elements 
which form its base are in existence. The Greeks with all their intellectual 
powers could not invent the airplane, because they did not have the 
gas engine and other supporting devices. The larger the number of ele- 
ments in a culture, the more numerous the inventions. Their growth 
appears to be somewhat like compound interest : the bigger the principal, 
the larger the interest. 

It is not surprising then that our mechanical heritage has become so 
large and is increasing so rapidly. More than 400,000 patents were granted 
in the United States alone within the decade 1920-1930. l Inventions like 
the coal tar products, cellulose acetate, nitrogen fixation and the electron 
tube all have their roots in the past and furnish the basis for future 

An attempt is made in the first section of this chapter to show 
in some detail how the inventing process is going forward in different 
fields. A broad resume is here presented of inventions and discoveries in 
applied science in the fields of electricity, chemistry, physics, metals, 
power, transportation, construction, machinery and mechanical objects, 
and biology. The social influences of these inventions are indicated or 
suggested. Not much can be told in the limited space available but at 
least a bird's eye view can be presented of vast achievements, far more 
marvellous than the Utopias or mythologies conceived by the imaginative 
writers of the past. 

This slow accumulation of mechanical inventions through most of 
the last half million years and its rapid acceleration during the period of 
modern history have led to a new environment to which modern man must 
adjust, quite different from the fauna and flora of nature. On first thought, 
it would seem to be an environment to which man would easily adjust 
himself. Houses furnish him with shelter, the adaptation to which seems 
easy, but there are difficulties in the way of obtaining the proper amount 
of outdoor exercise and sunshine for good health. The automobile enables 
him to move with less effort than it takes to walk, but it has brought its 
problems of traffic congestion and automobile thefts. The modern city 
has created the most artificial environment yet known. It brings comforts 
and conveniences, but likewise innumerable problems of adjustment. For 
instance, it forced a reorganization of family life by taking production 
from the household and placing it in the factory; it created a city pro- 
letariat; it changed manners and morals and brought problems of health 
which are not yet solved. Man is far from having achieved a satisfactory 

1 Patents and inventions are not identical. Many inventions are not patented. Many 
patents concern such small improvements that they may not be called inventions. It is 
difficult to draw the line between inventions and technical improvements or adaptations. 
A single major invention, such as the automobile, may combine hundreds of patents, while 
the invention itself may not be patented. 

[ 123 1 


adjustment to the modern factory which is closely associated with modern 
urban development. 

In the summary view of recent inventions presented in the first part 
of the chapter, there are a few brief descriptions of some of the social 
effects of these inventions on habits, customs, institutions, organizations 
and philosophies. In order to suggest the many possible ramifications of 
many inventions, a single great invention, the radio, was studied more 
thoroughly and a more extended account of its social effects is presented 
in the second section of the chapter. It is shown what an extraordinary 
and varied influence this invention has had on our lives. If the effects of 
other inventions were similarly shown, some idea might be gained of the 
social influence of inventions in general. 

It is not to be implied that mechanical invention is the source of all 
change. There are social inventions like the city manager form of govern- 
ment, the chain store, esperanto and basketball which have had great 
effects upon social customs. While many social inventions are only 
remotely connected with mechanical inventions, others appear to be 
precipitated by mechanical inventions. Such is the case with workmen's 
compensation laws, the trade union and the tourist camp. But just as 
mechanical inventions furnish an incentive for certain social inventions, 
so social inventions sometimes stimulate the making of mechanical 
inventions as in the "safety first" campaigns of a few years ago. 

The close relationship between social and mechanical invention is 
characteristic of the nature of the influence of inventions on society. 
Derivative effects of invention follow one another like ripples after a 
pebble is thrown in water. The description of this and other processes, 
of which there are many, serves to build up the picture of inventional 
influence. The relationship is often much more remote than that of the 
automobile and the consolidation of rural schools. Thus, the invention 
of the tin can is said to have influenced the movement for woman suffrage. 
It first led to canning factories, then it reduced the time in preparing 
meals in the home; it thus gave women more time for activities outside 
the home, including participation in the movement for woman's rights 
and the suffrage. In turn, woman suffrage has had a series of derivative 
effects. If the effects of a single factor are spread out very far, the force 
of the particular influence may be quite weak. Certainly the canning 
industry has had a very little influence on woman suffrage but its influence 
on the work of women in the home has been great. 

Furthermore, a social change is seldom the result of a single invention. 
Thus woman suffrage was the outcome of a great number of forces and 
converging influences. Mass production, urbanization, birth control, the 
typewriter, education, the theory of natural rights and many other factors 
contributed. The cumulative effects of many small inventions are also 

[ 124 1 


associated with social changes. This piling up process is analyzed in the 
third section of the chapter. 

Finally it is important to note which comes first, the mechanical 
invention or the social invention. In some cases the social invention is 
first, as was the case with building code legislation and the subsequent 
development of the set back type of skyscraper architecture. But in other 
cases the mechanical development comes first as in the development of 
welfare work systems for employees in factories and stores. 

There are many instances where the mechanical invention comes 
first and the particular adaptive social device follows. Advertising adapts 
itself to the radio. It is the factory which changed the family. Industry 
changes first and the school curricula later. There is often a delay or lag 
in the adaptive culture after the material culture has changed, and some- 
times these lags are very costly, as was the case with workmen's compen- 
sation for industrial accidents. The fact that the different parts of a 
highly integrated society are changing at unequal rates of speed means 
that there is a lack of harmony, frequently a grievous maladjustment, and 
always a failure to make the most out of a possible development. The 
problems of social change are then, first, for man to adjust himself to a 
new environment consisting of a huge material culture and, second, for 
man to adapt himself to varying rates of change in the material and 
social culture. 

The Number of Inventions. Of the facts which emerge from this 
study, one is the immense numbers of inventions and discoveries in all 
fields; another is the extent of their influence on many manifestations of 
life, incalculable in their totality and profound in their significance. But 
in addition to these is the impressive fact of their phenomenal increase 
from year to year. In the decade ending in 1890 there were 208,000 
patents granted in the United States. In successive decades the numbers 
were 221,000, 314,000, 384,000, and_4glj)flfl Jor the decade ending in 
1930. Table 1 shows at stated intervals the growth of patents, inventions 
and discoveries in certain fields of science in the United States and other 

The yearly increase in the number of patents since the World War 
has not been large, and it may be questioned whether this recent slow 
increase may not presage a decline in the near future. There have been 
several times in the past, however, when the number of inventions in- 
creased at no greater rate than in the last decade, and at some periods 
there has even been a decline; yet over a long period of time the curve of 
the growth of patents has been upward. These conditions are shown in 
the chart of patents granted by years since 1852 in the United States 
and in the United Kingdom. (Figure 1.) In the light of Figure 1 and of 
Table 1, a forecast of a decline in inventions based upon the post-war 



Patents issued in the 
United States, 1840-1931, 
by five year periods 

Patents issued in Great 
Britain, 1741-1931, by 
ten year periods* 

Inventions reported by 
Darmstaedter, 1450-1899, 
by twenty-five year 

Discoveries in physics 
reported in France, Eng- 
land, and Germany, 
1811-1900, by five 
year periods'* 

5 years 

Number of 

10 years 

Number of 

25 years 

Number of 

5 years 

Number of 










































1674 . . 


























U. S. Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, Statistical Abstract, 1928, p. 811; 1908, p. 202; 1888, 
p. 230. 

6 Hulme, Wyndham, Statistical Bibliography in Relation to the Growth of Modern Civilization, London, 1923; 
Whitaker's Almanac, and communications from the British Patent OfBce. 

c Darmstaedter, L., Handbuch zur Geschichte der Naturwissenschaften und der Technik, Berlin, 1908. 

d RainofF, T. J., "Wave-like Fluctuations of Creative Productivity in the Development of West-European 
Physics in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries," I tit, vol. 12, no. 2, 1929, p. 311. 

period only would seem unsound. The indications seem to be quite the 
other way. 

It is obvious that accumulating inventions are not without signifi- 
cance for education. The growth shown in Table 1 and Figure 1 
indicates that the total body of knowledge available to mankind is also 
accumulating, though naturally some is being lost, as, for instance, the 
primitive arts of the hunting period or the lore of the Middle Ages. Such 
an increase in the body of knowledge makes problems not only for educa- 
tional institutions but for the human race. Mankind now has to learn 
the great body of knowledge through its specialists, each of whom acquires 
parts of it, and through its non-specialists, who acquire more of it through 
a prolongation of the years of learning. Certainly the school curriculum 
has been enlarged, as is shown in the chapter on education, and the 
varieties of schools and courses have increased. The period of formal 

[ 126 1 


learning has been extended for many into adulthood. The data in Table 
1 may be causally correlated with these educational trends. It seems 
probable that this process will continue into the future, leading to further 
specialization and further lengthening of the years at school. 2 

Rapidity of Change. Table 1 shows not only an increasing number 
of inventions, but, since there are more inventions per unit of time, it 
shows an increasing rapidity in their occurrence, and hence, in social 
change. Habits and ways of doing things are thus changing more rapidly. 
More customs are being broken, appeals to the authority of long usage 









United States-^. 

\^-Greof Britain 

1851 -r86O I86I-I87O I87I-I880 I88I-I89O I891-I9OO I I9OI-I9IO I I9II-I92O I92I-I93O 




FIG. 1. Patents granted in the United States and Great Britain, 1852-1930. 

tend to be less widely convincing and principles of conduct are being 
reformulated in new terms to meet the changing conditions, and as 
conditions further change still more reformulations will be needed. From 
Table 1, it may be inferred that inventions are not without effect on 
codes of morals, and trends in ethical rules appear to be correlated with 
accumulating inventions. 

Acceleration. There are other trends but they are not easy to show 
numerically. Certain movements, however, seem clear even though 
unmeasured statistically. Such is the trend in the direction of the greater 

2 See Chap. VII. 



speed of life. This is an effect characteristic of so many inventions that 
it may be thought of as a general trend. Such, for instance, is the effect 
of most inventions in the fields of communication, transportation, produc- 
tion, power and light, and of many of the improvements in the various 
inventions. The increased speed of life has itself much social significance 
and leads to a greater rapidity of social change. 3 

Dependence on Machines. Still other effects are common to many 
inventions. One is the increasing use of machines, which is to be inferred 
from the growing number of inventions noted in the preceding table. 
These developments give man more power and bring more conveniences, 
but they also mean that he is more dependent on machines. This is true 
not only for the larger and more significant inventions presented in the 
following sections, but also, no doubt, for the smaller tools and objects 
which man holds as individual property for personal use. 

Effect on Standard of Living. Another general effect is on the stand- 
ard of living. Many tools and machines serve in the transformation of 
the products of the earth into usable objects, and this tends to raise the 
general standard of living. Such a tendency may be counteracted by 
several forces: by a too rapidly increasing population, by an exhaustion 
of certain natural resources, by a more unequal distribution of wealth, or 
finally by a disorganized social life, which, for instance, wars sometimes 
bring. But unless counteracted by such forces as these, technological 
progress will probably mean a rising standard of living, with consequent 
effects upon health, education, recreation and many other aspects of life, 4 
not to omit the possible effect on the ability to meet certain crises and 
emergencies, such as illness, unemployment and old age. Changes in the 
standard of living, however, tend to be somewhat slow and irregular 
when judged by the records of the past. 

Rural Life. A special phase- of the effect of the inventions that aid 
in the spreading of culture is the changing nature of agriculture and 
rural life. 5 The machine-power complex is being diffused outward from 
the cities into the villages and farming areas with almost dramatic 
effect. This movement is also furthered by inventions especially adapted 
to these regions and to the occupations and type of life found therein. 
This trend in rural and village life is not a general effect of all inventions, 
and is mentioned as a special trend. 

Technological Unemployment. One is also impressed by the fre- 
quency with which new machines displace laborers, making their services 
at former tasks no longer necessary, as is the case with milking and car- 
loading machines. This tendency is as true of recent inventions the effects 
of which lie largely in the future, such as the cotton picker and the 

3 For additional material on the increased tempo of life, see Chap. IV. 

4 On standards of living, see Chap. XVI. 

6 See material on agricultural life, Chap. II, and on rural life, Chap. X. 

[ 128] 


teletypesetter, to mention only two of an impressive number. With the 
growth of technology in transit unemployment grows. There seems to be 
no way of measuring the future of this displacement. But there are so 
many new inventions indicating displacement of labor that technological 
unemployment may be an even more serious problem of the near future 
than it is now. In the past, expanding industries and population shifts 
have in time accomplished the readjustments. It is difficult to say whether 
these numerous new labor saving inventions may not augment the prob- 
lem of technological unemployment in the future, but such is a strong 
possibility, despite a diminishing rate of increase in population. 

The Principle of Remote Control. The correlative of technological 
unemployment is the growth of the automatic processes of production, 
as illustrated by traffic regulation, the marvelous things which the 
photoelectric cell does, and the automatic power plant. When the auto- 
matic devices are correlated with the new communication inventions, 
remote control becomes an important factor. Technically, airplane 
flights without a pilot have been directed by remote control ; and, socially, 
industries have left large cities, with only management remaining there 
to exercise direction at a long distance. This significant principle is being 
applied in transportation, production, business, and in many other 
varieties of social affairs. 

Communication. So important are the trends in the communication 
inventions that a separate chapter is devoted to them. 6 But there ought 
to be noted here two effects of consequence. The first is that communica- 
tion and transportation development often mean change and variety to 
human beings. These are in marked contrast to the repetition and monot- 
ony which were brought by factories, whose great development preceded 
somewhat that of the agencies of communication. The other effect of the 
communication inventions is on the uniformity , and diversity of social 
life. It is obvious that the communication inventions are bringing the 
world closer together, but perhaps it is not appreciated how much they 
operate to bring uniformity and standardization. They may also intensify 
diversity because they may multiply local contacts more rapidly than 
those at a distance, as is shown in Chapter IV. Diversification and special- 
ization are also increased by the growing accumulation of material culture 
mentioned in a preceding paragraph. The communication inventions 
then have somewhat opposite effects. The two processes may go on at the 
same time, producing both a specialist's language and a common tongue. 

Problems of Adjustment. These social trends may be further sum- 
marized. They are all trends showing the adjustment of society to inven- 
tion and science. For science and invention are creating a new type of 
material environment different from the natural environment of cold 

6 See Chap. IV. 

[ 129 ] 


and heat, rain and drought, flora and fauna, to which early man had to 
make an adaptation. His was an environment relatively stationary over 
centuries, while that of modern man changes by decades. The new 
material conditions are seldom foreseen. Rather, man's social institutions 
and social philosophies have been constantly upset by rapid technological 
advance, and it is only later that better adjustments have been made. 
Delays are sometimes costly. Thus the changing material culture has 
meant more deaths by accidents as well as the conquering of some dis- 
eases. It has meant loss of jobs and the giving up of old and cherished 
habits. But of course it has brought more conveniences and a higher 
standard of living. 

The foregoing trends have been observed in the researches described 
in the following pages. These social changes are caused by inventions as 
a whole or as a class and are set forth in this section in a manner to show 
some of their broad implications for society in general, and perhaps to 
provide suggestions for interpretation in the reading of the accounts of 
inventions in the next section. These accounts present in detail the signif- 
icance of particular inventions, in contrast to the summaries just pre- 
sented. The purpose of the survey of major inventions in section II is to 
give a brief history of what has been happening during recent years 
across the whole range of material civilization, for the following chapters 
which make up these volumes cover many different phases of our changing 


The following survey of inventions shows the extraordinary range 
and variety of the effects of inventions and discoveries occurring along 
the whole front of technological progress and scientific advance. These 
seem to touch life in all its diverse phases and appear in unpredicted 
ramifications through the many customs and institutions of society. 

Modern civilization is so immense that to record all of the new inven- 
tions and scientific discoveries which are changing it is impossible. There 
must be a selection 7 of the most important. This selection, moreover, 
should not be narrow but should be representative of the many different 
aspects of civilization. 

Interest centers, however, on the effects and changes precipitated, 
and there are as many of these listed, suggested or implied as space 

7 The basis of selection is, in general, the significance for social change and not, as is 
the case in many lists of inventions, the importance for the welfare of human beings or 
the ingenuity represented in their mechanical properties and arrangements. Yet inventions 
important from the standpoint of human welfare generally occasion changes in habits 
and institutional activities. The list may give evidence of some serious omissions due to 
the obvious difficulty of covering such a wide field, to the unsettled criterion of the impor- 
tant inventions and to the arbitrary nature of any line cutting off the upper end of a 
frequency distribution, drawn on a scale indicating significance. 

[ 130 ] 


permits. Furthermore, the subject of inquiry is the changes of today, that 
is, of approximately the last decade, and therefore only recent inventions 
are studied. But it is to be remembered that the inventions which are 
basic to the changes of this decade appeared, in the main, a decade or 
more previously, few being noted, however, which were invented before 
1850. Thus the tractor is an old invention, but its effect on social change, 
particularly in rural life, has never been so great as today. On the other 
hand, the inventions of the present, with some exceptions, will not produce 
their most extensive influences until future decades and, while it is desir- 
able to look into the future, it is realized that the far off effects of many 
inventions are difficult to foresee. It is by no means easy to know which 
of the embryonic inventions will mature and become widely used. 

It is also important to consider whether the use of an invention is 
increasing or decreasing, for this gives some indication of whether the 
changes resulting therefrom are increasing or decreasing. 8 For instance, 
it is desirable to know whether an invention like the telephone, a rela- 
tively old one, is now producing many social changes. In the following 
pages the annual percentage rates of increase or decrease are given for 
many of the cases cited, 9 as indices of the rates of growth of the changes 
over the country. Thus in the case of certain telephone improvements, 
long distance calls in recent years are increasing at the rate of about 15 
percent annually. This statement is shown in the text by the symbol 
15u, which means that the annual percent increase in use is 15. If the 
percent increase in production had been used, the citation would have 
been 15p. An annual increase of 10 percent means doubling in about seven 
years. The first of the divisions 10 surveyed will be that of the electrical 

Electrical Inventions. Of the few electrical inventions on which it 
is possible to comment, those for lighting may be mentioned first. These 
inventions recover the night for work, play, education, etc. They lead 

8 Such is not always the case, for the derivative effects may increase even after the 
increase in use ceases. 

9 The rate of increase was determined by plotting the data of use or production during 
recent years, from 5 to 9 years, up to 1929 generally, on semi-logarithmic paper, drawing 
by sight a straight line to represent the trend and then reading off the percent increase, 
usually rounding off the figures to the nearest or 5, particularly in the larger percentages. 
If it had been possible to carry the trend lines through the business depression beginning 
in 1929, the increases in most cases would have been less. 

10 The classifications employed are selected because of their convenience; but in general 
the groupings are on the basis of properties rather than functions. They might also have 
been classified according to the stage in the productive process at which they are used. 
Those at the end of the process are consumers' goods as, for instance, the phonograph, 
while the blow torch is a producer's good, and like other producers' goods, has its social 
influence largely through the consumers' goods it helps to create. To exclude inventions 
that are producers' goods is not wise, however. Since they often suggest the consumers' 
goods they create, and even the social consequences that follow, they are very useful 
headings in a report where brevity is a necessity. 

f 131 1 


to the all-round use of the twenty-four hour cycle, counteracting the 
influence in northern latitudes of clouds and long winter nights. Lighting 
is said to be in its infancy, with many new forms in prospect windowless 
buildings easier to heat and light, outdoor sports at night, floodlighted 
exteriors, new lighting effects for the stage and interior decoration, and 
ultra-violet light indoors from mercury vapor lamps. Of the many light- 
ing inventions 11 the very efficient gas filled bulb, 1913, 12 should be espe- 
cially noted, 15p (15p meaning a 15 percent annual increase in production), 
as also the inside frosted bulb, 1925 (the date at which the invention 
became commercially successful). 

Of the communication inventions 13 the telephone 14 may be mentioned 
first. Though an old invention, 1876-1880 (1854), 15 the telephone is being 
developed with many new devices such as repeaters, carrier currents, 
1918, and permalloy, 16 1924, and plans for a transatlantic telephone cable 

11 Other light inventions are acetylene, 1892, natural gas (not electrical, of course), 
arc light, 1872, incandescent filament light, 1879, Nernst light, 1897, searchlight, 1876- 
1886. See footnote 12 for explanation of dates. 

12 The date represents the time when the invention became commercially successful, 
which is later in the evolution of an invention than its date of conception or patent. In 
the development of an invention, first comes the idea, usually vague, the date of which in 
history is indeterminable. This idea is some day worked up into a trial device, model, or 
plan, and the earliest date found at which this step was taken is called the conception date. 
Perhaps later would come the date of first demonstration of an experimental mechanical, 
but not commercial, success. Still later comes the day here called the success date, when 
the device is made fully practical in one of the forms used later, and is put to regular use. 
Later still come the dates when the curve of adoption soars. These dates cannot always 
be determined exactly. While exactness of date is important in giving recognition in 
patent litigation, it is perhaps sufficient here to place the invention approximately. This 
study is not much concerned with who "the inventor" was and few names are given since 
the interest focuses on social consequences. In the case of most important inventions, 
many inventors made important contributions at some stage of their evolution; but the 
one who contributed the stroke from which historically the development in common 
utilization began is usually called the inventor, although technically he may have con- 
tributed no more or even less than many others who worked on it. 

13 It is not planned, however, to deal with inventions by functional groups or processes, 
and other discussions of communication will be found elsewhere in the report. Rather, 
it is individual invention complexes that are presented; and the transition from one inven- 
tion to another is necessarily brief and abrupt. 

14 The titles used are designations sometimes of clusters of smaller inventions. Thus 
the vacuum tube was in the first instance a single invention, but there have been so many 
different smaller inventions improving it or adding to it that the vacuum tube has become 
in reality a cluster of inventions around a central idea. At other times the titles imply a 
complexity of inventions. Thus by the telephone is meant the whole organization including 
receivers, wires, switchboards, cables, poles, telephone numbers and directories, and all 
that goes to make up the system. 

15 The dates occurring in parentheses are the dates of conception as defined in footnote 
12, and should not be confused with the "success" date. 

16 Since brevity is a necessary characteristic of the report, citations for each date used 
will not be given. In general they come from the biennial United States Census of Manu- 
factures, the Statistical Abstract of the United States, the Commerce Yearbook , from special 
reports and from direct inquiries. For the data on inventions and their uses, the various 
histories of inventions were consulted as well as special literature on the inventions. 


have now been made. Because of its rapidly increasing use (calls 5u), 
the telephone is causing many social changes, touching the farm, the 
medical profession, police, fire control, store deliveries, household 
purchasing and broadcasting. Affairs are speeded up and contacts become 
less formal. The recent rapid increase of long distance calls, 15u, if con- 
tinued may encourage office and factory decentralization. 17 

The vacuum tube, 55u, one of the great inventions of our times the 
two-electrode valve, 1904 (1889), and the three-element tube, 1906 is 
essential to radio telephony, loud speakers, electrical phonograph record- 
ing, picture telegraphy, television and all uses of the photoelectric cell, 
and is employed in all manner of detection and control devices such as 
elevator leveling, train control and continuous process control. 

The photoelectric cell is old but became practically useful only when 
vacuum tube amplifiers were made available. Its use with the amplifier 
is so recent that its social effects will be largely in the future, although 
even today an unusual variety of uses has been found for this mechanical 
eye, which never knows fatigue, is marvellously swift and accurate, can 
see with invisible light, and coordinates with all the resources of electricity. 
It sorts beans, fruit and eggs, measures illumination in studios and 
theaters, appraises color better than the human eye, classifies minerals, 
counts bills and throws out counterfeits, times horse races, counts people 
and vehicles, determines thickness and transparency of cloth, detects and 
measures strains in glass, sees through fog, records smoke in tunnels 
and chimneys, and is indispensable in facsimile telegraphy, television, and 
sound-on-film pictures. Other of its uses are to direct traffic automatically 
at less frequented crossings, to open a door at the approach of a waitress 
and to serve as an automatic train control. It has been used in the phonop- 
ticon to read print in sound, embodying a principle of significance but 
with an uncertain future due to inherent difficulties and to competition 
from other inventions. 

There are numerous electrical inventions which hold promise for many 
useful future developments, particularly in the field of communication. 18 
One possible extension of electrical invention is the use of wires and radio 
for picture and facsimile transmission, 1923. Trial newspapers have been 
thus sent from New York to San Francisco, and from land to ships. Such 
service has many difficulties, technological and otherwise, and there are 
substitutes, but if some such service should be extended to cities and 
particularly to small towns it would have far reaching social consequences. 
Other uses of the same mechanism are for sending news pictures, identi- 
fications of criminals, X-ray photographs, weather maps, signed docu- 

17 For additional material on the use of telephones, see Chap. IV. 

18 It is not intended here to anticipate the future trend of electrical research any more 
than there is an attempt to survey the growth of electricity. 

[ 133 1 


ments, chemical formulae, graphs, and messages in other alphabets and 
in symbols. 

Another prospective development is the solution of the problem of the 
frequency standardization of radio wave lengths. Synchronous broad- 
casting, begun in 1931, if successful should lead to an increase in the 
number of stations and also to greater development of the chain system. 19 
The use of very short wave lengths, reported in 1931, tends likewise to 
relieve channel crowding and makes room for television. The organization 
of a radio broadcasting service for news transmission to newspapers seems 
almost certain to develop. 

The future of television, 1927, is usually looked upon with optimism, 
despite the very great technical difficulties in scanning large fields, as an 
athletic contest or a theatrical performance. Perhaps a less distant 
prospect is the scanning of motion pictures and their transmission to 
homes by "wired" wireless, with serious consequences to the motion 
picture theaters. A developed television indeed will affect in many ways 
the home, travel, education, politics, advertising and recreation. 

In the field of health and medicine, there have been a number of 
important electrical inventions, such as electro-surgery and electric 
hearing. The electro-cardiograph, particularly through amplified records, 
opens new possibilities in the study of the diseases of the heart. The 
electric induction of fevers by short radio waves, a very recent invention, 
raises the body temperature to a point where certain germs, possibly in 
paresis, cannot live, and is suggestive for the future. 20 

Among other recent electrical inventions may be mentioned electric 
precipitation, 1908, (1824) which removes valuable or noxious dusts, 
especially sulphur, from discharged gases, (gas plant, 60u) and reduces 
smoke appreciably. Still another invention with recent applications is the 
electro-magnet for separating and grasping. It is now used for sorting ore 
and blast furnace dust, for handling iron scrap and for taking stray iron 
from mills, roads and eyes. 

The rather simple invention of the hot electric coil, lOp, 1892, provides 
a convenient and portable heat, and is used in flatirons, curling irons, hair 
waving apparatus, sterilizers, heaters, fireless cookers, table stoves, 
warming pads, aviators' clothing, infra-red lamps, driers in lieu of towels. 
By their convenience these coils have helped to retain certain activities 
in the home, at the same time helping to turn soda fountains into restau- 
rants. They are also especially useful on ships, airplanes, cars, and in many 
fixed industries. 

The electric furnace, of arc and incandescent types, 1886 (1810), and 
the induction type, 1890, is finding a growing number of uses, particularly 

19 On the number of radio stations, see Chap. IV. 

20 The X-ray and ultra-violet lamp are discussed below. 

[ 134 ] 


in making increasingly useful high grade alloy steels, ductile tungsten, 
calcium carbide, artificial graphite, low expansion glass; in melting 
platinum, purifying metals, making low expansion enameling, etc. It is one 
of the most useful of the production inventions. 

Chemical Inventions. Among the chemical inventions the develop- 
ment of cellulose nitrates first gave guncotton, 1847; then smokeless 
powder, 1863-1886; celluloid, 1869; blasting gelatin, 1875; artificial 
leather, 1882; and rayon, 1885. The related cellulose xanthate and acetate 
produce other types of rayon, and these various forms of dissolved 
cellulose yield plastics and quick drying, colorful varnishes, 1924. Rayon, 
25u, 21 has, because of its cheapness and wide use, lessened distinctions 
between the social classes, influenced dress styles and interior decorating, 
encouraged the use of color, home laundering, soaking soaps, the dry 
cleaner and the like. 

There are various new types of plastics and varnishes other than those 
from cellulose. Plastics are used in camera films, drawing instruments, 
toys, phonograph records, buttons, electrical apparatus for insula- 
tion, billiard balls, fountain pens, eyeglass frames, hardwood substitutes, 
noiseless gears, shatterproof glass, and as cellophane (transparent thin 
sheets) for the preservation and display of merchandise. In other com- 
binations, they make artificial leather, automobile tops and airplane dope; 
spread as varnishes, they are used on automobiles, typewriters, machinery 
and furniture. There are possibilities of developing a rich sculptural art 
of molded forms in high colors by the use of these new types of plastics. 
Butanol (process of 1919) is a principal solvent for laying on cellulose 
lacquers and airplane dope. (Pyroxylin, llu; phenolic, etc., 55u; pyrox- 
ylin varnishes, 40u.) 

Basic to much of the chemical industry is nitrogen fixation, 19001903 
(1785), since nitrogen furnishes ammonia and nitric acid, used for dis- 
solving cellulose and in many other ways. The several processes of 
nitrogen fixation are freeing the United States from dependence upon 
Chilean nitrates. 22 

The chemical utilization of coal is found now largely in the by-products 
of the coke oven, 1881 ff., 23 (1856). These by-products are illuminating 
gas, coal tar, ammonia, benzol, toluol, naphthalene and others. They have 
influenced the development of mechanical refrigeration, the nitrogen 
industries, dyes and the use of color, perfumes, a variety of drugs, and 
chemicals generally. With the recent development of pipe lines, the 
prospect of breaking down coal at the mines is nearer. Piping of powdered 
coal by air blast is now practicable for short distances. 

21 For an index number on the manufacture of rayon, see Chap. XVII. 

22 See discussion of nitrates in Chap. II. 

23 The expression, 1881 ff., means that the date of commercial success was in 1881 and 
the years immediately following. 

[ 135 ] 


Chemistry has done much with drugs, as aspirin, 1899, the barbitol 
group of sedatives, 1903 ff., anaesthetics, disinfectants, as hexylresorcinol, 
c. 1925, specifics, as salvarsan, 1910, and synthetic substitutes for glandular 
extracts such as adrenalin. 

Other recent 24 chemical discoveries and inventions are numerous and 
important. Poison gas (and the gas mask) may greatly influence future 
wars, since with the use of gas the ratio of killed and permanently disabled 
to temporarily disabled is small, and since gas may be used on non- 
combatants. The use of poison gas gives an advantage to nations with 
highly developed chemical industries. Other types of gas masks are used 
in fighting city and mine fires and in chemical industries. 

The depth charge is a naval weapon which explodes at a predetermined 
depth. It is especially effective against submarines, and was perhaps a 
factor in limiting the building of battleships. 

The development of insecticides and fungicides has had many suc- 
cesses, the use of calcium arsenate for dusting cotton for boll weevil 
being one. 

Calcium carbide, 1895 (1862), gives acetylene gas for miners' lamps, 
lanterns, rural cooking and light, and the blow torch. It is also used to fix 
nitrogen by the cyanamid process. The blow torch particularly, using 
oxygen, 1901 (1889), and cutting ferrous metals like a knife, is used in 
wrecking, on armor plate, in building pipe lines and for cutting under 

Rubber anti-oxidants, c. 1925 (c. 1910), greatly prolong the life of 
rubber, especially thin articles exposed to light, and also accelerate 
vulcanization. Again, the hydrogenation of oils, 1902, makes cheap oils 
like cottonseed, lOu, into solid fats available for cooking, soaps, candles. 
Three hundred thousand tons are used yearly. 

Of future chemical developments not yet mentioned, the utilization 
of farm by-products is expected to increase, such as the making from 
cornstalks, corn cobs, wheat stalks and oat hulls, of paper (c. 1928), 
boards (c. 1929), insulation material (c. 1928), and furfural, 1921. 
(Cottonseed oil and cake were developed much earlier.) There are also 
possibilities of producing methane gas from ordinary sewage and corn 
stalks. With electric and gas power, small factories may be located on or 
near farms, thus giving impetus to corporation farming. 

The transformation of cellulose and wood waste into edible foods has 
been accomplished and may be of use in emergencies or for special foods. 

24 Among the older inventions are dynamite and its mercuric detonator, 1867; smokeless 
powder, 1863-1886; trinitrotoluol, 1891; liquid oxygen, 1895-1897; electrolytic chlorine 
and soda process, c. 1890; Solvay soda process, 1861; paper by sulfite process, 1867; coal 
tar dyes, 1856 ff.; cocaine, 1855, 1889; water gas process, 1875; gas illumination of trains, 
1867, 1886; photographic dry plate, 1862; photographic film, 1887; and color photography, 

[ 136 ] 


Much attention has been given to the artificial ripening of fruits by gases 
and by other methods, and these may find a limited use. 

Other Inventions in Physics and Natural Science. Liquid air, 
1895-1898 (1877), finds use in science and in industry, the constituent 
gases are easily distilled off, and cheap oxygen, lOu, is thus produced. 
Liquid oxygen with lampblack is a safety explosive. Oxygen is indispen- 
sable for torch cutting and welding, and useful in medicine, metallurgy 
and chemistry. If oxygen could be distributed by pipes, many uses would 
develop. Blast and other furnaces requiring great heat might profit by the 
use of oxygen rather than air since four-fifths of air is nitrogen which is 
useless in burning (though it transmits heat to other parts of the process). 

In a machine age, welding is important to join metal to metal solidly. 
Three new methods far superior to the old hammering process were 
brought into use between 1886 and 1901; these melt the metal locally by 
electricity , by the oxyacetylene torch or by thermit. Their greatest uses are 
in making pipe lines, both seams and joints, thus leading to the extension 
of the natural gas lines. Steel ships and skyscrapers are also now welded 
noiselessly. Broken machinery is repaired in situ; worn gears are rebuilt; 
and car rails are conjoined. Other uses are in wire fences, metal furniture, 
airplanes, tanks, pressure vessels, submarines, kitchenware, mechanical 
refrigerators 25 and automobile bodies. (Electric welding sets, 25p.) 

Some of the nitrogen used for fixation is distilled from liquid air. 
Nitrogen is also used in electric bulbs, for fire protection and for preserv- 
ing foods. Argon, another gas derived from air, goes into lamp bulbs. 
Neon is transforming electric signs, and is used in fog beacons, television, 
picture telegraphy and sound films. Helium is now secured only in very 
limited quantities from air but if oxygen is produced from liquid air on a 
large scale the supply of helium for airships might increase and it might 
be used as a preservative of foods. 

The X-ray, 1895, is well known for its many uses in medicine and 
dentistry. In industry its largest use is in detecting flaws in castings 
and weldings, but there is a great variety of uses for the X-ray, from 
fitting shoes and detecting smuggled goods to testing the authenticity of 
old paintings. Many important uses for it are found in physics, where it 
has contributed much to our knowledge of the nature of light, of the 
electron, and of each unit of matter from electron to crystal, especially in 
solids and colloids. There are also some uses in biology, and in medicine 
it has been another weighty item in the capital equipment of physicians, 
and has thus encouraged organized medicine. X-rays in crystal diffraction 
date from 1912. 

Ultra-violet mercury vapor lamps, 1904-1906, improved by clear 
fused quartz, 1924, are expected to have a great variety of uses in the 

25 For index numbers on electrical household equipment, see Chap. XVII. 

[ 137 ] 


future. Of the many physiological and hygienic effects claimed, the anti- 
rachitic and germicidal are best established. Ultra-violet light is supposed 
to ward off some forms of common cold, and to influence various glands 
of internal secretion, the blood, and calcium metabolism, aiding particu- 
larly the bones and teeth. It is also used in sterilizing, in putting vitamin 
D in foods (1924), in testing dyes and paints, in drying patent leather, 
in making hens lay and in many scientific experiments in chemistry, 
physiology and biology. If cheap lamps become available for use on 
ordinary current the reduced supply of ultra-violet light in smoky cities, 
particularly in winter, will be counteracted. Cheap permanent ultra- 
violet passing glass, experimented on a great deal recently, would also 
aid in getting more ultra-violet from the sun. 

Another development in the field of physics is geophysical pros- 
pecting for ore and oil by means of magnetic, gravitational, seismic, 
natural or created electric currents, by radio and by thermic methods. 26 
The airplane is used in some forms of prospecting, and in connection 
therewith there has also developed phototopography, used in war for 
military map making and profoundly modifying army intelligence and 
stimulating camouflage. Civil cartography, sometimes stereoscopic, 
far cheaper and quicker than ground surveying, is used in coastal measure- 
ments, timber cruising, planning pipelines or railways, discovering 
archaeological sites and general map making. Integral photography, 
1928, showing depth without viewing apparatus, should be of value in 
moving pictures and in many other ways. 

The ultra-microscope, 1903 (1837), has lately been used with ultra- 
violet light with much finer definition, thereby suggesting possibilities in 
physics, chemistry and bacteriology. 

The cathode ray tube seems to be a type of invention from which 
many future uses are expected, but it is difficult to say what they will be. 
Mass production of clear fused quartz, previously mentioned in con- 
nection with the mercury lamp, should prove to be very useful in astron- 
omy, optics, motion pictures, homes, laboratories, and any place where 
heat must be withstood or radiation transmitted. 

Reports on the study of long distance weather forecasting on the 
basis of solar activity are encouraging, and if successful would be of great 
use in planning production in manufacture and in agriculture, as well as of 
service to man in travel and on vacations. 

Inventions and Discoveries Relating to Metals. Much recent work 
on metals deals with the alloy steels. 27 In a metal age hard cutting tools 
are necessarily important. It has been demonstrated that tools may be 

26 See material on discovery of new deposits, Chap. II. 

27 Tungsten steel dates from 1868 and manganese, nickel and silicon steels from 1884, 
1889 and 1906. Cheap steel by the Bessemer process goes back to 1856, open hearth to 
1866, and the basic process to 1879. 

[ 138 1 


still harder without iron, as in the case of tungsten carbide in cobalt. 
Such tools can cut concrete and porcelain neatly and have many possible 
uses. Stainless and rustless alloys of steel are finding varied uses, as in 
tools, household utensils, screens, on automobiles and airships, and in 
architecture. Ductile tungsten, 1909 (1892), is also invaluable in lamps, 
15u, thermionic valves, X-ray and other electrical apparatus. Metals 
today are often ground down instead of cut (1886) by wheels of car- 
borundum, 1891, 3u, and alundum. 28 

Of the various processes of dealing with metal, there should be noted 
metal spray plating, 1913, by which molten metal is blown on almost any 
substance, thereby giving greater durability and other properties. There 
are also many art possibilities with this process. Metal is finding a use on 
buildings for both decorativeness and durability. 

The search for light metals becomes more avid with the growth of 
transportation, especially air transportation. Aluminum, by electrolysis, 
1886, is being increasingly used (lOu) but much appears to be expected 
of the lighter beryllium in alloys, particularly as the new metal is being 
cheapened. Its use in airplanes might be very significant. 

Perhaps it should also be stated that metallurgists are still working 
at the problem of producing cheap steel directly from the ore by other 
methods than the electric furnace, or the coke blast furnaces. 

Power Inventions. Although the basic power inventions are old 29 
the growth in use of power has been very great in recent years. The annual 
supply of energy from fuels and water power produced in the United 
States increased about 20 percent 30 from the World War up to 1929, 
while the installed capacity of prime movers in factories, mines and 
electric plants increased much faster, nearly 50 percent between 1917 
and 1927, 31 due to more efficient combustion. The use of this great power 
capacity, 32 often represented as the equivalent of about 100 slaves per 
person, is indicated in the account of the various inventions of machines. 

The subject of power is treated in another chapter, and only the 
social influence of a few recent developments will be noted here. Oil burn- 
ing, while dating from 1863, has greatly increased in homes, 40u, and 

28 Among the earlier inventions regarding metals should be mentioned electrolytic 
refining, 1889; microscopic metallurgy, 1860; cyanide process for gold and silver, 1888, 
flotation process for non-ferrous metals, c. 1903; and the method of drawing seamless 
tubes, 1890, 29u. 

29 Among these are the electric power inventions centering around the dynamo, 1866- 
1890; the lead storage battery, 1865; the gas engine, 1860, 1878; producer gas, 1856; 
natural gas wells, c. 1872; petroleum wells, 1859; reciprocating triple expansion steam 
engines, 1881; Giffard injectors, 1858; and the Pelton wheel, 1880. 

30 U. S. Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, Statistical Abstract of the United 
States, 1930, p. 367. On the rise of water power, see Chap. II. 

31 U. S. Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, Commerce Yearbook, 1930, vol. 1, 
United States, p. 266. 

32 Much of this capacity is in automobiles which are used only a fragment of the time. 

[ 139 1 


on ships, 5u, where it is not only a great convenience but diminishes the 
terrible labor of marine stoking. Sailing ships are disappearing from use. 
International relations have been greatly affected by struggle for oil 

The Diesel engine, 120u, 1897 (1888), burning cheap, heavy oil, has 
made great progress In motorships, 25u, locomotives and power plants, 
and has recently been adapted to automobiles, airplanes and airships, 
lessening fire risks and saving fuel weight and cost. Petroleum crack- 
ing, 1908-1914 (1860), 15u, yields increasing proportions of gasoline with 
anti-knock qualities, even 100 percent, or whatever distillates be desired, 
by the hydrogenation process, 1930. From natural gas is extracted natural 
gasoline, 1904 (1880), and the gases propane and butane. These are 
easily liquified and thus transported, to furnish gas in rural homes and 
for industrial uses. 

In connection with gas and gasoline, there should be mentioned the 
development of pipe lines, 1875, greatly stimulated since about 1915 by 
the new welding processes (natural gas, lOu, and consumers, 7u). 33 
This movement has reduced railroad and water transport revenues and 
affected coal mining. It has also meant the conservation of gas and oil, 
less dust, noise and smells, assistance to helium production, and a saving 
of domestic toil at the cookstove and furnace. Piping gasoline along the 
highways is expected. 

The steam turbine, 1866, invaluable for electric generation, lOu, has 
recently, 1910, been geared to the low speed propellers of slow ships, and 
an exhaust turbine, 1928, has been geared to a reciprocating high pressure 
marine engine. 

Mechanical firing of boilers, 1845 (1800), and the use of pulverized 
fuel, 1895, 13u, have spread rapidly since 1920, especially in central power 
places, 35u, and has raised the thermal efficiency of boilers up to 90 per- 
cent. Mechanical stoking has increased the size of locomotives, hitherto 
limited by human stoking power, has lightened the hard labor of the 
locomotive fireman, enabling him to watch the engine and track, and it 
affords a new market for slack coal. Not the least of its social effects is 
the aid it gives in eliminating smoke in cities, removing carbon and thus 
allowing more ultra-violet light to pass. Mechanical stoking moreover is 
being adapted to the smaller apartment houses, and even to single family 
dwellings, thereby competing with the oil burner. 

The light alkaline storage battery, 1905-1915, has found convenient 
uses in short distance transportation in city streets, terminals and 
factories, thus lessening the toil of common labor. 

Power has been such a help to mankind that it is usually at the fore- 
front in imagination, and there has been much speculation about future 

33 For index number on production of natural gas, see Chap. II. 

[ 140 ] 


sources. 34 Electrical power from tide and waves are old dreams, and 
there are experimental stations off the coast of France. The sun as a 
source of power is another idea that will not down, and there are certain 
regions that could benefit greatly if this idea should be realized. The 
heating of water or oil by mirrored rays has not led to much optimism, 
but several methods for deriving electrical energy directed from sandwich 
cells activated by sunlight are now reported, the most recent and suc- 
cessful using silver selenide. 

More realistic perhaps are the experiments now being made in sub- 
stituting for water in boilers other liquids such as mercury with a high 
boiling point, or sulphur dioxide with a low boiling point, all to increase 
efficiency. Claude's spectacular success in 1930, after two very costly 
wrecks, in producing power from the wide temperature differences be- 
tween surface and deep sea water in the Caribbean may perhaps help 
in possible future upbuilding of that zone, where there is little coal or 
available water power. 

Transportation Inventions. 35 The social effects of the various 
transportation inventions are changing, owing to the revolutionary inven- 
tions in electric and internal combustion engines, and in road and air 
vehicles. The automobile is treated more fully in the following chapter, 
but some account should be given here of certain of its social influences. 

The automobile, lOu, 1880-1887, came into general use following the 
invention of the multiple disk clutch, c. 1907, and that of the self-starter. 
To think of the automobile as a more speedy substitute for the horse is to 
underestimate its influence. It has greatly increased and dispersed trans- 
portation, cut down railroad traffic, especially on short hauls, lessened 
the isolation of the farmer, aided the consolidation of small schools and 
churches, has helped, along with electricity, to disperse factories, and has 
developed a new type of vacation. 

The automobile has also increased accidents, increased the activities 
of the police courts, and affected a great variety of businesses from the 
rubber industry to hotels and restaurants. There have been many lesser 
effects, such as influence on family recreation on Sunday, and many 
derivative effects, such as the lessening of the significance of boundary 
lines between states. 

As to the future changes in the automobile, it appears uncertain 
whether the oil engine, now adapted to the automobile, will be used 
extensively. The electric truck has been fitted with various lifting devices, 

34 For further discussion of inexhaustible energy sources, see Chap. II. 

35 As a heading for a group of inventions transportation, like power, is not on quite 
the same plane as the other headings used since it is a function rather than a physical 
property or a process; but perhaps it will serve since there are certain similarities in the 
physical properties of transportation inventions. Compare this section with material in 
Chap. IV. 

[ 141 1 


the lift truck dating from 1913, 30u. Freight containers transferable 
between truck and freight car are a novelty with perhaps a great future. 

As to rail transportation, the electric locomotives on Class I railways 
have doubled in number in fifteen years. Like electric coaches they save 
coal, lessen noise and smoke and stimulate suburban traffic. Regenerative 
braking has been used on inclines with appreciable saving of electricity. 
The multiple unit system of controlling electric trains, 1891-1897 
(c.1880), has been extended, bringing safety and speed, while automatic 
train control, 1899, making signals conclusive, has saved life, time and 
tracks. The Diesel electric locomotive and rail motor car (1897) are useful 
in local service and switching, giving free time to firemen and saving 
smoke. 36 (Val. 25p.) 

The use of refrigeration in transportation, while employing an early 
principle, is developing along many lines. The glass lined tank car has 
been used for transporting milk from Wisconsin to Florida in summer. 
Refrigerator cars creating cold from the turn of the car wheels were 
reported in 1930. The quick freezing of vegetables and meats also aids 
in their transportation and distribution, possibly affecting the future 
of the butcher shop. Frozen carbon dioxide, or dry ice, though somewhat 
expensive, is being used in local transportation. 

Transportation across water has been affected by the general progress 
in machinery, in construction and in engines. The hydroplane embodies 
an interesting principle for light transportation, in supporting the 
vessel, through a novel hull form, by the dynamic rather than the 
flotation method. Its use is on airplanes and motor boats, a novelty 
being a boat which at full speed touches the water only by very small 
submerged hydrofoils, the hull rising above the water. 37 Hydro-air- 
planes, 15u, are useful for transportation in certain regions where the 
landing places on land are less convenient or numerous than those on 
water. Streamlined rudders, 1920, 1925, are now being used increasingly 
as an aid to power and speed. 

Still another idea is that of the creation and perception of under- 
water sounds, 1904, (1826) used for communication by submarines and 
ships, chiefly for locating underwater bell guiding stations, and the ocean 
bottom. This idea may have other scientific uses, as, for instance, the 
prediction of earthquakes by soundings of the ocean floor. The social 
significance of the submarine, 1900, in affecting the balance of power of 
nations, in limiting the construction of battleships, in bringing mer- 
chantmen into war, etc., should not be forgotten. 

36 Other developments are the booster and auxiliary locomotive, the articulated loco- 
motive (to TJ. S. in 1904), and the single phase high tension A. C. motor, 1902. 

37 Another novel invention of perhaps limited use is the rotor, a revolving cylinder, 
replacing an inclined plane. About 1923, a rotor ship without sails crossed the Atlantic, 
using wind (with a little other power) on the rotor. 

[ 142 ] 


A singular device used in water and air transportation is the gyrostat. 
It was first utilized in 1886 to take observations despite the rolling of the 
ship. The gyro compass, 1908, 29p, excels the magnetic, and makes 
mechanical steering possible. It guides the torpedo and is most promising 
as an airplane stabilizer for automatic flying in fog. As a ship stabilizer, 
1904, 1914, 5p, a wheel 13 feet in diameter will steady a 17,000 ton ship. 
The gyrostat has also been tried in connection with a mono-railroad. 

There are various devices for seeing through fogs. Thus a television 
apparatus, 1929, transforms long infra-red wave lengths into shorter 
visible ones, thereby extending vision from a few hundred yards to a mile 
or so. The infra-red searchlight is a complement. Perhaps there may be 
many applications of this idea, as the demands for the extension of the 
field of sight by airplanes, ships, armies and in television are great. 

The spectacular growth of transportation by air is well known 
(gasoline 85u). 38 The airplane as an instrument of war, 1903-1908, 
tends to add to the might of the advanced land powers, to weaken the 
sea powers, and to threaten the interior of belligerent countries. In 
peace times besides being a method of fast transport, especially in desert 
or semi-populated regions, carrying passengers, express, news, mail 
and medicine, the airplane is used in exploration, in timber cruising, 
for photography, in archaeology, in projecting railroads and pipelines, for 
fighting forest fires, for finding schools of fish or seal, for sight seeing, 
for vicarious sport, for scattering seeds or insecticides, for advertising, 
for locating shipwrecks and lost persons, for carrying provisions to the 
marooned and for tracking criminals. If the mail snatching devices be 
found practical, air mail services to villages and rural regions will offer 
another quick means of communication with the outside world. The 
airship, 1895, has somewhat similar effects in war and in peace. It is 
used for long touring and for cruising over regions where an airplane 
would have difficulty in landing. The wind tunnel is an interesting 
invention that aids in testing designs of aircraft, though also used for 
testing winds on buildings, towers and sails. 

The future development of the airplane appears to be involved 
in part with the problem of flying safely through fog. Inventions which 
help to solve this problem are the gyrostatic stabilizer, 1926, the radio 
beam, 1920, the earth inductor compass, 1926, the echo altimeter, 1924- 
1931, the modulated beacon light, neon light and the radio telephone. 
Other important developments are those permitting taking off and 
landing at low speed in small or rough places. Among inventions of this 
type are the autogyro, 1924, the helicopter, 1921, wing slots and flaps, 
1914-1921, and the low wing. These inventions, to the degree to which 
they prove successful, permit the use of small landing places near or in 

38 For figures on air transportation, see Chap. IV. 

r 143 1 


cities where people live and where room is scarce, but most important 
are their benefits in securing greater safety. 

Inventions Used in Building. One of the most socially significant 
inventions is that of skeletal construction, 1884, which together with 
elevators, 1855, central heating, fire protection and improved plumbing 
and lighting inventions, has led to the tall apartment house, hotel, and 
loft building, and the skyscraper office structure. (Ferro-concrete build- 
ings, 10 stories up, 10p.) 39 They in turn have added to business district 
congestion, with such derivative effects as smaller families, loss of family 
functions, stimulation of public parks and playgrounds and of manual 
training in schools, the encouragement to congregate living by common 
nurseries, cooperative laundries and apartments, fireproof construction, 
new architectural forms and zoning laws. 

A new development in this field is air control for coolness and moisture 
content. Beginning in the interest of manufactured products, air control 
has been extended to theaters, restaurants, hotels, offices and railroad 
trains. Besides meaning much for comfort, health and efficiency, it may 
be a step in the further development of cultures in southern climates. 

The treatment of water and sewage, though based on chemical prin- 
ciples, involves constructional problems. To the methods of improving 
Lwater have been added those of chlorination, 19081912, and the elimina- 
tion of hardness, permitting the better exploitation of various sources of 
supply. The obtaining of fresh water from the sea seems to be near 
economic realization, and would benefit certain sections of the coast of 
South America and Africa as well as certain larger seaports where the 
extension of metropolitan regions menaces the sources of their water supply. 

The air flights to Europe have elicited many models of floating islands, 
which may be developed for other uses as well. For Claude's power proj- 
ect such islands may be found very desirable. Once developed they would 
permit the extension of the urban coastal population a short distance 
seaward for various purposes. 

Inventions of Larger Production Machines. The inventions and 
improvements in the various machines of production are, of course, very 
numerous, and it is impossible to cover even in brief all the chief develop- 
ments of recent years. Some forms of this machinery have been dealt with 
under other categories, and others are of no interest here since their social 
effects are noted in the description of consumers' goods which they help to 
produce. Even so it has been thought best to treat the smaller machines 
under the next grouping. 

In agriculture machines are being adopted widely at present, and 
are having a great social influence, particularly through saving labor, 
adding to the equipment costs of farms, requiring new knowledge and 

39 For additional material, see Chap. IX. 

[ 144 ] 


skills, increasing production, introducing marketing problems, causing 
further migration from farms, and increasing the size of farms and thus 
perhaps taking agriculture a step nearer to the corporate organization. 

The tractor, 1901, has varied uses on the farm (tractor farms, 15u), 
saving labor, reducing the number of farm animals and fodder crops, 
and increasing the crops for human consumption. 40 With a belt the tractor 
provides motive power for machines which cut ensilage, shell corn, saw 
wood, etc. It is not confined to the farm but is used widely in construction, 
in industry and around terminals. The caterpillar tread, c. 1904 (1770), 
is used on soft ground for towing and for self-mobile engineering equip- 
ment. Its effect in war in changing army practice through the tank is 
well known (round wheel type, lOp). The combined harvester and 
thresher, 1886 (1828), was not made in small sizes until about 1905, and 
the period of rapid advance has been since the war. It has saved much 
hard farm labor, and has reduced labor migration and the task of feeding 
large numbers of harvest hands. The milking machine, 1905 (1819, 1849), 
had led to specialization in large dairies. It lowers costs, reducing the 
milking staff by a half to a third in the case of larger herds. 

In regard to cotton, there are cotton pickers and pullers on the 
market, but their use has not yet become widespread. The cotton sled, 
which crudely strips off all the bolls at once, has been widely employed 
in northwest Texas where conditions are peculiarly fit for its use. The 
development and adoption of a cotton picker in the south might be a 
serious blow to the small marginal farmer, who has been back of some 
interesting political and social movements, and would encourage large 
scale farming. 41 The migration of Negroes to the cities would also be 
stimulated and this would affect race relations and the future of the 
Negro race. The sugar cane cutter might have very serious consequences 
for other crop lands, particularly Cuba. 

Machinery has been invented which is completing the tardy mechani- 
zation of the flax industry: the flax puller, 1921, and the automatic 
breaking and scutching machine, 1926. An ensilage chopping harvester 
was reported in 1929. And a demonstration has been reported of a corn 
combine which pulls and shells the corn. There are, of course, a great 
number of other agricultural machines, some of which were developed at 
an early date, 42 while others are of much less social significance than those 
above mentioned. 

In the coal mining industry, coal cutting machinery, 1893 (1887), 2u, 
has been installed increasingly but not so fast of late as coal loading 

40 See also Chap. II. 

41 For additional discussions see Chap. II. 

42 Among these may be listed various improvements in harvesting machinery, 1858- 
1879, the lister, the check-row corn planter, the centrifugal creamer, 1881, the plow sulky, 
1868; and here might be mentioned the flour milling machinery of 1875-1879. 

[ 145 1 


machinery, 1905-1922, 70u. Other mining machinery in its social aspects 
is mentioned in the chapter on natural resources. 43 All result in a reduc- 
tion in the toil of labor. 

Textile machinery had an early development with, of course, profound 
social effects. Power loom silk weaving came at a much later date than 
the cotton loom. The endless belt conveyor has been an important 
factor in mass production methods. The development of trench digging 
machinery has greatly reduced the cost of laying pipe and digging drainage 
and irrigation ditches. Invention in connection with printing and paper 
making had a particularly brilliant but early development, with a rather 
rapid extension of the rotary presses since the war. Recently the speed 
press has been adapted to color and picture printing with important 
effects upon advertising and decoration. High grade color work is begin- 
ning in the daily newspapers. Inventions likely to affect typesetting are 
facsimile transmission and the teletypesetter, 1930. 44 This latter invention 
is an adaptation of the teletype machine, 1926, a new form of the printing 
telegraph, 1855. The teletype, 66u, permits a typist to print messages 
simultaneously in distant stations, and is used for telegrams, news, 
weather reports and stock market reports, and is utilized increasingly 
by factories, commercial houses and police authorities for interdepart- 
mental communication. An extension of the service to include various 
houses or subscribers with a central exchange like that of the telephone 
is planned. The teletype machine, when typing a perforated band in code 
which is used in setting type, becomes a teletypesetter. It has possibilities 
for increased speed and for a great reduction in labor if it can be adapted 
to the complexity of the newspaper office and would tend to make pro- 
vincial newspapers part of the metropolitan chain. A photo-composing 
machine, without metal type, is being improved. 

Other inventions concerned with communication are the moving 
picture camera and projector and the talking picture equipment. 45 The 
effects of the moving picture, 1892 (1859, 1864), are to a great extent 
unassessable, yet it is generally assumed that they affect manners and 
morals, and the standards of conduct of the young, particularly by intro- 
ducing the folkways of cities into isolated places. Their educational force 
is great in the sense of spreading information about customs and lands. 
The moving picture affected the theater, athletics, study habits of the 
young, play and novel writing. In science there are X-ray moving pictures, 
historical records, studies of wild life and of microscopic creatures, slow 
motion pictures of quick action, etc. The results of the moving picture 
development were little foreseen. 

43 Chap. II. 

44 See above, p. 133. 

45 Additional discussion may be found in Chaps. IV and XVIII. 

[ 146 ] 


The sound picture, 1922, 1926, was dependent for its extremely 
rapid final success on the loud speaker. Electric amplification without 
distortion has been attained, but there is still distortion in reproduction. 
Some striking consequences have been the mechanical theater, and 
revalorization of the speaking actor. Also language problems have been 
raised with grave threat to the hegemony of the American film. It gives 
little encouragement to the small languages, provides opportunities for 
studying foreign tongues and, where English is understood, spreads 
Americanisms. Ten thousand theater musicians suddenly lost their jobs; 
and the moving picture industry had to make radical readjustments. 
The educational and scientific uses of this invention are little utilized as 
yet, and it may have important effects upon schools and colleges. 

Miscellaneous Inventions of Material Objects and Mechanical 
Devices. In the category of miscellaneous inventions may be mentioned 
first the growing influences of the various computing and tabulating 
machines, particularly since they have been electrified. Their aid to speed 
and accuracy of large scale business recording is very great, with much 
saving of labor and provision of occupations for women, particularly in 
the case of the card punching and assorting machines, 5u. Their service 
to banks and government bureaus is great; and it is difficult to think of an 
accurate social science evolving without such aids. 

Of a somewhat similar nature are the small machines for writing, 
of which the foremost are the typewriter, 1873 (1714), lOp, the mimeo- 
graph machine and the letter addressing devices. Nearly a million new 
typewriters were produced in the United States in 1929, almost double 
the number in 1921. The typewriter is a great stimulus to writing and 
record keeping. It has given writing and reading to the blind, and typing 
constitutes an important occupation of women. Adaptations of the 
typewriter have been made to telegraph instruments and to the numerical 
listing and computing machines. In 1913-1916, a machine was made 
which wrote in a legible alphabet when spoken to, but it has never been 
developed for commercial exploitation; such a novel fundamental inven- 
tion usually requires long and expensive development before being made 
suitable for common use. Since it would appear to require a language 
new in many regards, it seems at least far distant. The service of such a 
machine to a people who spend much time in writing would be very 
important indeed. 

Of aid to science and business has been the development of the card 
index principle, c. 1876, which is of great utility to libraries; and the 
invention of the cash register, 1879, should also be noted. These are both 
fairly old 46 but the process of diffusion has by no means ceased. A very 

46 Among the many miscellaneous older inventions of small material objects and 
mechanical devices may be mentioned ball and roller bearings, the air brake, 1869, 1872, 
portable percussion instruments, mechanical glass blower, c. 1880, the cigarette machine, 

[ 147 ] 


significant business invention, if it may be so classified, was that of 
motion study of human beings, 1879-1901; this is still finding wide appli- 
cation not only to the advantage of efficiency in production, but also to 
the advantage of labor in lessened fatigue and possibly in lessened 
monotony, with derivative effect on the relations of employer and 

A small but interesting device in the aid of business is the slot machine, 
20p. Early uses appear to have been in telephone booths, on transporta- 
tion vehicles, and for the sale of small articles, such as chewing gum and 
candy. Lately the principle has been used in restaurants, soda fountains, 
cigar stores, breweries, and even in homes. The slot machine is also 
employed in selling sandwiches, fruit, peanuts, handkerchiefs, stamps, 
pencils, nameplates, combs, towels and prophylactics. The principle 
has been applied to scales, muscial instruments, mechanical shows, games, 
museums, shooting galleries, gambling devices, toilets, shoe shining 
machines and turnstiles. It facilitates speed and is a further step in the 
mechanization of life, saving labor and bringing a new kind of salesman- 
ship into being. One gasps to think of the possible extensions in the 

There are a number of smaller machines and mechanical devices 
affecting the household as well as business. Several of these have already 
been referred to. Certain others deserve mention, such as the very widely 
used domestic electric washing machine, c. 1905, which has probably 
slowed up the departure of the laundry industry from the home, and 
perhaps decreased the number of servants. 47 It has also had effects on 
cleanliness, the life of clothing and the working time of women. Soft 
collars and rayon may have been encouraged by its use. 

Another important home convenience is that of the domestic mechan- 
ical refrigerator, c. 1917, 95p, which with its lower temperatures has 
greater possibilities than the old type of refrigerator. It is an illustration 
of a home machine injuring a factory. 

The tin can, 1811 (canning, 1778), did not become free from the 
danger of solder until 1903. Painting by a vegetable enamel, c. 1910, 
prevents discoloration and loss of flavor. Canning has simplified the 
preparation of food, the almost universal occupation of women in the 
past, and has given a better all year supply of vitamins. The value of 
goods canned in 1929 was nearly a billion dollars, 10u. 48 

Another significant process is packaging, which has been aided since 
the war by improvements in packing machines, by paper box machinery, 

1876, wire glass, 1891, electric fan, 1886, carpet sweeper, 1876, linoleum, 1862, and certain 
gun inventions, 1860-1880, viz., breach loading, repeating, disappearing and machine 

47 For an index number on washing machines, see Chap. XVII. 

48 For discussion of canned goods in relation to the family, see Chap. XIII. 

[ 148 ] 


by the reworking of second hand paper and by cellophane, 1908-1923. 
The packaging of candy, cigars, milk (experiments with fibre containers 
are reported), ice cream, drinks, prepared foods, cleaned garments, etc., 
aids sanitation, cleanliness (except for waste paper on the streets), sales- 
manship, advertising, and the preservation of original qualities. Eating 
habits are affected and the home is more dependent upon the store (pack- 
ing machinery, 10u). 49 

The phonograph, largely a household instrument, may be assigned 
a place among the musical machines. It was conceived in 1863, demon- 
strated in 1877, successful in 1888, used as a dictaphone in the 1890's 
and became popularized with the disk record about 1894. Suffering in 
the 1920's from radio competition, it has become adapted to some of 
the radio inventions. 50 Originally a scientific toy, it became great as a 
musical instrument and not for purposes of dictation, recitations, or 
recording the words of dying persons, to cite three of the ten uses Edison 
foresaw. Together with the player piano, it was an effective factor in 
the development of modern dancing, and has perhaps promoted family 
life at home. It is also used in recording dialects and in teaching languages. 
Another likely development is the new dictaphone recording of both 
sides of a telephone conversation. 

There seems to be also a concentration of effort to produce new types 
of musical instruments by taking advantage of the new electrical inven- 
tions; one of very probable success, c. 1928, is based on the photographing 
on plates of the various notes of any or all instruments and playing from a 
console adapted to fairly small space. There are experiments along other 
lines. The telharmonium, 1897, has been revived employing the new 
electrical inventions, producing variations in wave lengths by vacuum 
tubes, yielding any desired tones directly for broadcasting. Such an 
instrument would be too costly for private use, but it would appear that 
a development along these general lines might have great effect on music. 

Biological Inventions and Discoveries. Discoveries in the biological 
sciences regarding plants and the lower forms of animal life as well as 
human life, together with certain chemical and mechanical inventions 
closely related thereto, should be added to the groupings which have 

First should be mentioned discoveries in regard to breeding and the 
science of eugenics. Knowledge of heredity has been increased greatly 
since Mendel's researches became known, but this knowledge has been 
best worked out only with such animals as the fruit fly. Mutations have 
been produced by the X-ray, certainly a revolutionary suggestion. Thus 
far the knowledge in regard to the breeding of humans that seems most 

49 Additional material may be found in Chap. XVII. 

50 An index number is given in Chap. XVII. 

[ 149 ] 


suitable to social application and control is concerned with the inheritance 
of certain defects. The sterilization of the feebleminded and insane is 
being undertaken in some states. 51 The possibility of raising the racial 
average by propagation from the better stocks is attractive and has 
undoubtedly a future. 

Cross breeding and selection among domestic animals and plants 
has been highly developed on the practical side as, for instance, with 
the loganberry and the spineless cactus. New plants and animals have 
been imported and bred, as for instance, durum wheat, and new uses 
have been found for old plants, as the Jerusalem artichoke, which yields 
sweet levulose with a very large food quantity per acre. Entomological 
developments have the same general effect of improving plant and animal 

The new discoveries regarding foods for humans, particularly in 
vitamins, 52 improve the health of the people, although these improve- 
ments are not passed on to the next generation by heredity. Their sig- 
nificance for the growth of children is particularly great. 53 Researches 
indicate that increased stature is largely a function of feeding in child- 
hood and of the lessening of childhood diseases. Ultra-violet light has 
somewhat the effect of vitamin D, which also affects the absorption of 
calcium, thus influencing teeth and bones. These vitamins give better 
resistance to many different afflictions, one vitamin in particular, 62, 
preventing pellagra, which has affected large areas in the south. The 
irradiation of foods, 1921-1925, increases the vitamin content. Dis- 
coveries regarding minerals in foods, as for instance, copper and manga- 
nese (which affects the feeding of the young by the mother and is said 
to encourage mother love) have the same general trend. 

It is true that medical practice has sometimes lagged behind medical 
knowledge, 54 but nevertheless the environment of the race has been made 
more healthy and the stock itself has been improved during a lifetime, 
with the result of preserving many who otherwise would not have lived. 
What effect this increased survival may have on the race is not known, 
but there has been discussion as to its possible deteriorating influence, 
which would be a matter of social importance. 55 

The story of medical progress is brilliant and well known, and includes 
such notable things as the anti-toxins and vaccines, the knowledge of 
the transmission of disease by insects and bacteria, the tests for specific 
diseases, the knowledge of sanitation, the treatment of specific diseases, 
the use of drugs, anaesthetics, surgical instruments and sterilization. 

61 For a summary of the laws, see Chap. XXVIII. 

62 Vitamin A, 190&-1915; B, 1889-1897; B 2 , 1915-1927; C, 1912; D, 1921, andE, 1922. 

63 On child nutrition, see Chap. XV. 

64 This question is discussed in Chap. XII. 
66 See Chap. XXI. 

[ 150 ] 


These discoveries have revolutionized medical practice and science, and 
have led to the development of hospitals and clinics, and to the beginning 
of a more highly organized medical practice. They have been accom- 
panied by the extension of government further into the medical field, 
especially that of sanitation and public health nursing. Trades and 
industries have been regulated in the interests of health. The medical 
aspects of war have been changed. 

Finally may be mentioned certain discoveries in physiology, as for 
instance, the treatment of the young during adolescence and of women 
during menopause, and the treatment of the aging as well as special 
illnesses and defects by glandular therapy. 56 Better physiological knowl- 
edge has also been used with profit in some cases of goiter; and the feeding 
of thyroxin to cretins as also to the higher grades of mental defectives 
has been most spectacular. The success of endocrine researches on the 
lower animals leads to a certain amount of optimism for the future as 
regards humans. The prospects are as dazzling as those of eugenics, for 
if means are discovered for the control of mentality, temperament, 
personality, growth and decay, the social consequences would be truly 

There is a growing knowledge of the control of ovulation in the 
body, and this leads to speculation as to the possibility in the future 
of regulating safely and usefully the feminine reproductive cycle. The 
spread of the use of contraceptives is not without biological implications. 
The differential birth rates among the social classes are supposed to have 
at present dysgenic effects, but as time has passed, it is claimed they 
have become eugenic in some localities. The differential use of contra- 
ceptives among nations is influential as a cause of war. Contraceptives 
have been effective in changing the age distribution of the population 
and heightening the problem of the care of the aged, particularly in cities 
where space is limited and the mobility of population is great. The 
reduction in the rate of population increase affects the ratio to food, 
natural resources and capital, and hence is of significance for the standard 
of living. 57 The use of contraceptives may not be without influence on 
codes of morality. Resulting small or childless families mean effects on 
divorce and on the personality and material welfare of children. 

The survey of recent influences of inventions, though an imposing 
picture of the many and varied changes in society which science and the 
machine are producing, is incomplete in several regards. These omissions, 
which it was impossible to avoid, will not be described here, but an 
attempt is made in the two following sections to compensate for them. 

66 This is a rapidly evolving field of research, but the following significant discoveries 
may be mentioned: dessicated thyroid feeding and synthetic thyroxin, 1901-1926, adrenalin, 
1902, pituitrin, 1906-1925, insulin, 1923, and products of the super-arenal cortex, 1928. 

67 Birth control in relation to population is discussed in Chap. I. 

[ 151 ] 



A satisfactory conception of the far reaching effects of inventions 
still remains inadequately presented, for in the preceding section only a 
very few of the effects of the more significant inventions were mentioned. 
To remedy this omission, several inventions were studied intensively 
to see how widespread were the social changes occasioned. One hundred 
and fifty such social effects were noted for the radio, and one of these, 
merely as an illustration, was further expanded into fifteen. Before pro- 
ceeding to the presentation of this list, it is desirable to make a few 
preliminary explanations of terms and methods. 

Social Effects of the Radio. The purpose of this study of the radio 
is to give some idea of the extent of its influence rather than to prove 
particular causal 58 relationships. It hardly seems necessary to try to prove 
such statements about the effect of the radio as that "a new recreation 
has been provided for the home" or "music has been popularized.'* 
These statements are obvious, as are nearly all of those listed. In some 
cases, however, the influence is not quite obvious but appears probable 
although adequate proof has not been found. This is the case in regard 
to the effect of the radio on piano sales, about which the statement is 
made that "The market for the piano has declined. The radio may be 
a factor." The wording here cautions against a completely definite con- 
clusion, but suggests that there is a probability of relationship. 

In some cases the effects may not be easily apparent, because obscured 
by other more powerful forces operating in the opposite direction. As an 
illustration, the radio, through the broadcasting of educational matters 
and current events to adults at home, is said to lessen the differences 
that often appear between parents and their children because of the fact 
that their respective educations have differed greatly. This influence, 
a very small one, may possibly be quite obscured by opposite forces such 
as growing compulsory attendance for more school hours and more 
particularly by the increasing number of children who go to high school. 

Many minor influences are mentioned because the purpose is to show 
the numerous varieties of effects rather than only the important ones. 
Thus mention of the minor influence of the radio on illiterates is made 
next to the statement of the vastly important result that isolated regions 

68 The word "causal" is used in the sense of concomitant variation, other factors being 
constant. Thus the radio is a cause of loss in piano sales, if an increase in radios is accom- 
panied by a decrease in piano sales, other conditions being the same. It is a cause no matter 
how slight the reduction in sales, although in popular language in such a case it would be 
spoken of as a slight causal factor rather than as a cause. A factor may be a cause even 
though in its absence the phenomenon continues to exist. For instance, had there been no 
radio, piano sales might have fallen off anyway (though not so much) due to such other 
factors as diminishing home space, sales of phonographs, or the effective competition of 
automobile or moving pictures. 


are brought through the radio in contact with world activity. The effects 
listed are, therefore, very uneven. So also, some of the minor influences 
might have been merged into some of the more general influences, if the 
purpose had been to generalize instead of to pursue the opposite course 
of breaking the effects down into detailed ones. 

The effects listed are not necessarily permanent. They may change 
with time. Thus, apparently the radio was used more several years ago 
for setting up exercises in the morning than it is today. Nevertheless such 
exercises were an effect of the radio, and may be listed as such. 

An invention may have effects in opposite directions. For example, 
the radio has caused a revival of old songs, but it has greatly popularized 
new songs also. It may improve diction and pronunciation yet at the 
same time encourage certain types of localisms in pronunciation. 

These preliminary considerations will compensate somewhat for 
the paucity of explanation in the following lists. The effects are not 
confined to the United States. The statements of effects are collected 
under appropriate headings to facilitate reading. Some statements might 
equally well have been placed under different classifications. The number- 
ing is largely for citation; some of the effects overlap; if those cited had 
been broken down into others, the list would have been longer. 



1. Homogeneity of peoples increased because of like stimuli. 

2. Regional differences in cultures become less pronounced. 

3. The penetration of the musical and artistic city culture into villages and country. 

4. Ethical standards of the city made more familiar to the country. 

5. Distinctions between social classes and economic groups lessened. 

6. Isolated regions are brought in contact with world events. 

7. Illiterates find a new world opened to them. 

8. Restriction of variation through censorship resulting in less experiment and more 
uniformity. , 

9. Favoring of the widely spread languages. 

10. Standardization of diction and discouragement of dialects. 

11. Aids in correct pronunciation, especially of foreign words. 

12. Cultural diffusion among nations, as of United States into Canada and vice versa. 


13. Another agency for recreation and entertainment. 

14. The enjoyment of music popularized greatly. 

15. Much more frequent opportunity for good music in rural areas. 

16. The manufacture of better phonograph music records encouraged. 

17. The contralto favored over sopranos through better transmission. 

18. Radio amplification lessens need for loud concert voices. 

19. Establishment of the melodramatic playlet with few characters and contrasted 

20. Revival of old songs, at least for a time. 

21. Greater appreciation of the international nature of music. 

[ 153 ] 


22. Entertainment for invalids, blind, partly deaf, frontiersmen, etc. 

23. With growth of reformative idea, more prison installations. 

24. Interest in sports increased, it is generally admitted. 

25. Slight stimulation to dancing at small gatherings. 

26. Entertainment on trains, ships and automobiles. 


27. Radio beams, enabling aviators to remain on course. 

28. Directional receivers guide to port with speed and safety. 

29. Aid furnished to ships in distress at sea. 

30. Greater safety to airplanes in landing. Radio system also devised now for blind 

31. Chronometers are checked by time signals. 

32. Broadcast of special weather reports aids the aviator. 

33. Brokerage offices on ships made possible. 

34. Receipt of communications en route by air passengers. 

35. Communication between airplanes and ships. 

36. Ships directed for better handling of cargoes. 


37. Colleges broadcast classroom lectures. 

38. Broadcasting has aided adult education. 

39. Used effectively in giving language instruction. 

40. Purchasing of text books increased slightly, it is reported. 

41. Grammar school instruction aided by broadcasting. 

42. Health movement encouraged through broadcast of health talks. 

43. Current events discussion broadcast. 

44. International relations another important topic discussed, with some social effects, 
no doubt. 

45. Broadcasting has been used to further some reform movements. 

46. The government broadcasts frequently on work of departments. 

47. Many talks to mothers on domestic science, child care, etc. 

48. Discussion of books aids selection and stimulates readers. 

49. The relationship of university and community made closer. 

50. Lessens gap schooling may make between parents and children. 

51. Provision of discussion topics for women's clubs. 

52. New pedagogical methods, i.e., as to lectures and personality. 

53. Greater knowledge of electricity spread. 

54. The creation of a class of radio amateurs. 


55. Wider education of farmers on agricultural methods. 

56. Prevention of loss in crops by broadcasting weather reports. 

57. Education of farmers on the treatment of parasites. 

58. Market reports of produce permitting better sales. 

59. Important telephone messages between continents. 

60. Small newspapers, an experiment yet, by facsimile transmission. 

61. News to newspapers by radio broadcasting. 

62. News dissemination in lieu of newspapers, as in British strike. 

63. Transmission of photographic likenesses, letters, etc., especially overseas where 
wire is not yet applicable. 

64. Quicker detection of crime and criminals, through police automobile patrols 
equipped with radio. 

[ 154 ] 



65. Discouragement, it is said, of preachers of lesser abilities. 

66. The urban type of sermon disseminated to rural regions. 

67. Services possible where minister cannot be supported. 

68. Invalids and others unable to attend church enabled to hear religious service. 

69. Churches that broadcast are said to have increased attendance. 

70. Letter-writing to radio religious speakers gives new opportunity for confession 
and confidence. 


71. In industry, radio sales led to decline in phonograph business. 

72. Better phonograph recording and reproducing now used. 

73. Lowering of cable rates followed radio telegraph development. 

74. Point to point communication in areas without wires. 

75. The business of the lyceum bureaus, etc. suffered greatly. 

76. Some artists who broadcast demanded for personal appearance in concerts. 

77. The market for the piano declined. Radio may be a factor. 

78. Equipment cost of hotel and restaurant increased. 

79. A new form of advertising has been created. 

80. New problems of advertising ethics, as to comments on competing products. 

81. An important factor in creating a market for new commodities. 

82. Newspaper advertising affected. 

83. Led to creation of new magazines. 

84. An increase in the consumption of electricity. 

85. Provision of employment for 200,000 persons. 

86. Some decreased employment in phonograph and other industries. 

87. Aid to power and traction companies in discovering leaks, through the assistance 
of radio listeners. 

88. Business of contributing industries increased. 


89. Music sales and possibly song writing has declined. Studies indicate that broad- 
casting is a factor. 

90. A new provision for dancing instruction. 

91. A new employment for singers, vaudeville artists, etc. 

92. New occupations : announcer, engineer, advertising salesman. 

93. Dance orchestras perhaps not increased but given prominence. 


94. In government, a new regulatory function necessitated. 

95. Censorship problem raised because of charges of swearing, etc. 

96. Legal questions raised beginning with the right to the air. 

97. New specialization in law; four air law journals existing. 

98. New problem of copyright have arisen. 

99. New associations created, some active in lobbying. 

100. Executive pressure on legislatures, through radio appeals. 

101. A democratizing agency, since political programs and speeches are designed to 
reach wide varieties of persons at one time. 

102. Public sentiment aroused in cases of emergencies like drought. 

103. International affairs affected because of multiplication of national contacts. 

104. Rumors and propaganda on nationalism have been spread. 

105. Limits in broadcasting bands foster international arrangements. 

106. Communication facilitated among belligerents in warfare. 

107. Procedures of the nominating conventions altered somewhat. 

108. Constituencies are kept in touch with nominating conventions. 

[ 155 1 


109. Political campaigners reach larger audiences. 

110. The importance of the political mass meeting diminished. 

111. Presidential "barn-storming" and front porch campaign changed. 

112. Nature of campaign costs affected. 

113. Appeal to prejudice of local group lessened. 

114. Campaign speeches tend to be more logical and cogent. 

115. An aid in raising campaign funds. 

116. Campaign speaking by a number of party leaders lessened. 

117. Campaign promises over radio said to be more binding. 

118. High government officers who broadcast are said to appear to public less distant 
and more familiar. 


119. Development stimulated in other fields, as in military aviation. 

120. The vacuum tube, a radio invention, is used in many fields, as for leveling elevators, 
automobile train controls, converting electric currents, applying the photo-electric 
cell, as hereinafter noted. A new science is being developed on the vacuum tube. 

121. Television was stimulated by the radio. 

122. Developments in use of the phonograph stimulated by radio. 

123. Amplifiers for radio and talking pictures improved. 

124. The teletype is reported to have been adapted to radio. 

125. Geophysical prospecting aided by the radio. 

126. Sterilization of milk by short waves, milk keeping fresh a week. 

127. Extermination of insects by short waves, on small scale, reported. 

128. Body temperature raised to destroy local or general infections. 

129. The condenser with radio tubes used variously in industry for controlling thickness 
of sheet material, warning of dangerous gas, etc. 

130. Watches and clocks set automatically by radio. 


131. Morning exercises encouraged a bit. 

132. The noise problem of loud speakers has caused some regulation. 

133. A new type of public appearance for amateurs. 

134. Some women's clubs are said to find the radio a competitor. 

135. Late hours have been ruled against in dormitories and homes. 

136. Rumor as a mode of expression perhaps hampered in broadcasting. 

137. Growth of suburbs perhaps encouraged a little. 

138. Letter-writing to celebrities a widespread practice. 

139. Irritation against possible excesses of advertising. 

140. Development of fads of numerology and astrology encouraged. 

141. Automobiles with sets have been prohibited for safety, in some places. 

142. Additions to language, as "A baby broadcasting all night." 

143. Aids in locating persons wanted. 

144. Wider celebration of anniversaries aids nationalism. 

145. Used in submarine detection. 

146. Weather broadcasts used in planning family recreation. 

147. Fuller enjoyment of gala events. 

148. Home duties and isolation more pleasant. 

149. Widens gap between the famous and the near-famous. 

150. Creative outlet for youth in building sets. 

The foregoing list is not summarized, as it is the detailed effects which 
should be noted. Even so, the items are not as detailed as they could be 
made. Each item might be broken down into other particular effects. 

f 156 1 


More Detailed Effects. For instance, item number 24 of the fore- 
going list, "Interest in sports increased, it is generally admitted/' when 
analyzed in further detail shows fifteen further social effects, which 
are as follows: The broadcasting of boxing matches and football games 
tends (1) to emphasize the big matches to the neglect of the smaller and 
local ones, (2) increasing even more the reputation of the star athletes. 
In the case of football (3) the big coaches are glorified and (4) their 
salaries become augmented. (5) The attendance at colleges specializing 
in football whose football games are broadcast is increased. (6) Football 
practice in the springtime is thus encouraged and (7) the recruiting 
of prospective star players for college enrollment is fostered. (8) The 
smaller colleges or the ones with higher scholastic requirements tend 
to be differentiated as a class by contrast. (9) Boxing matches with big 
gates have accentuated trends in boxing promotion, notably the com- 
petition for large sums of money to the neglect of smaller matches. (10) 
Broadcasting of sports has led to a greater advertising of the climate 
of Florida and California, and (11) no doubt has aided a little the pro- 
motion of these two regions. (12) Broadcasting of sports has led to the 
developing of a special skill in announcing the movements of athletes 
not at times easy to see, a skill rather highly appreciated. (13) Athletic 
and social clubs with loud speakers have become popularized somewhat on 
the afternoons and evenings of the matches. (14) The broadcasting of 
baseball games is said to have bolstered the attendance, particularly 
by recapturing the interest of former attendants. (15) Another effect it 
is said has been the reduction in some cases of the number of sporting 
extras of newspapers. 

If the other items in the list were further analyzed, as in the case 
of sports, the great influence of the radio on social change would be more 
truly appreciated. Such an expansion of other items would show more 
of the later derivative influences, such as the further advertisement of 
the climate of southern California, a derivative influence of the broad- 
casting of football games. There must be a vast number of these ramifying 
influences which, though minor, no doubt affect a good deal the daily 
lives of people. 

Not only could the list be broken down in greater detail but it could 
also be shown that the various influences are felt at different times and 
in different degrees. Thus, the radio may help to destroy rural isolation 
but the farmers have lagged behind the city dwellers in buying radios. 
In general political campaign speeches may be more logical since the 
advent of the radio but some political broadcasters have not caught up 
with the times and still try oratorical effects. 

Social Effects of Other Inventions. In addition to the radio, the 
effects of the automobile, of rayon, and of the X-ray were similarly studied. 

[ 157 ) 


For rayon, a less significant invention, twenty-three different social effects 
were listed. In the case of the X-ray, sixty-one influences were noted, 
causing changes in industry, in medicine, in science, and in trade. One of 
these sixty-one items, viz., the use of the X-ray in dentistry, was analyzed 
into twenty different social effects, there being in addition sixty-three 
technical uses of this invention in dentistry alone. In a somewhat less 
extensive study of the automobile, one hundred and fifty such influences 
were noted. 

If the selected inventions noted in section II were analyzed as was 
done in the case of the radio, rayon, and the X-ray, the result would be a 
very impressive picture of the tremendous force of inventions in pro- 
ducing social changes. 

These selected inventions were only a few of the most important. 
The hundreds of thousands of smaller inventions all have their effects 
on social change, many of them slight, but immeasurable in their 
total influence. 


The descriptions in the two preceding sections give some idea of the 
magnitude of the influence of the mechanical and scientific arts, but there 
remain yet other influences to be noted. These do not lend themselves 
very well to measurement or to factual descriptions. They can be shown 
best by analysis of a variety of processes. The analyses set forth in this 
section then help to round out the picture partially drawn in the pre- 
ceding sections. But in addition they throw much light on the nature of 
social change and on the many various ways in which it affects modern 
civilization. A paragraph is given to each type of interaction or process. 

An invention often has many effects spreading out like a fan. This is 
the first point noted in the process, and has been observed in the pre- 
ceding pages. Thus the automobile not only aids the growth of suburbs 
and redistributes marketing areas, but it cuts the revenue of railroads, 
and encourages the consolidating of rural schools, as was pointed out 
along with many other influences in a previous paragraph. 

A social change often represents the combined contributions of many 
inventions. Thus the growth of suburbs is stimulated not only by the 
automobile but by the electric train, the street car, the moving picture, 
the telephone, the radio and the factory. A social change may thus be 
said to be caused by various different inventions. 

Inventional causes and social effects are intertwined in a process. For 
instance, a particular effect of the automobile, the reduction in revenue 
of railroads, has other causes, as the increase in pipe lines, while the 
increase in pipe lines in addition decreases the consumption of coal. 
And any particular factor in the increase in suburbs, such as the tele- 

[ 158 1 


phone, has other social effects, as on the marketing habits of housewives 
which in addition is not without some effect upon certain aspects of family 

An invention has a series of effects following each other somewhat like 
the links of a chain. Thus the mechanical stoker for engines (a) increases 
the amount of coal going under a boiler, (b) which permits a more power- 
ful locomotive, (c) which increases the length of trains, (d) which makes 
the distance a passenger carries his baggage greater, (e) which increases 
the. number of porters, (f) which contributes its bit to the status of the 
Negro, and so on. Or, the automobile (a) replaces horses, (b) which 
diminishes stables, (c) which in turn reduces the number of flies, (d) which 
lessens somewhat the communicable diseases. Again, the can opener is 
said to have aided the woman suffrage movement, through an enchain- 
ment similar to that following the mechanical stoker and the automobile. 
Derivative effects of this nature must be numerous and their mere volume 
makes them an important part of the process. The type of effect studied 
in connection with the radio should be thought of as extending out in 
this derivative manner. But these derived effects become somewhat 
attenuated eventually, so that it appears to be absurd to attribute a 
causal force when the influence is so negligible. Though spending their 
force in a sort of diffusion they are nevertheless real, particularly when 
seen as the accumulated result of thousands of different inventions, in a 
society where social conditions are closely intertwined. Many of the great 
mass of social changes are thought to be of this indirect and diffused 

Groups of similar inventions have an appreciable social influence, where 
that of any particular one may be negligible. Thus the introduction of many 
new machines replacing human labor may be a factor in the restriction of 
immigration, yet one would hardly note that the rotary printing press 
in making much of the work of feeders unnecessary was a causal factor 
in the restriction of immigration. 

The accumulation of the influences of the smaller inventions is a signifi- 
cant part of the process. If inventions were classified according to their 
complexity or to their importance, there would be only a very few that 
would be classed complex or important, such as those described in section 
II. An examination of the patents granted shows that the great majority 
are minor ones, or represent only small improvements upon existing 
inventions. The same is true also of the many inventions not patented. 
Thus the inventions discussed in the preceding pages are not representa- 
tive of the great mass of inventions. The typical invention is more like 
one of the following group of six patents selected at random. 69 

69 They were the first items on the ninth pages of the Official Gazette, United States 
Patent Office, April-September, 1929, vols. 381-386. 

[ 159 ] 


Door Holder. A base plate, lever, rod coil spring, and pin comprising a stop which will 
hold a door in an open or partially open position. 

Typewriter. A universal bar attachment to a typewriter facilitating its operation. 

Compression Gage. In a small cylinder a piston is operated against a spring and in 
conjunction with a rod which is sealed to permit reading. 

Fuse Holder. A fiber tube adaptable to fuses of different size yet designed to prevent 
longitudinal movement of the fuse. 

Process for Utilizing Light Metal Scrap. A process for forming solid bodies of metal 
by pressing a mixture of scrap metal and carbon into bales, and heating with a subsequent 
application of high pressure. 

Grain Sprouter. A cylindrical aerated tube with internal mechanism designed to receive 
and discharge grain before and after sprouting. 

The majority of inventions are merely slight improvements on some exist- 
ing device. Thus the plow sulky has had 549 patents on it. 60 These improve- 
ments often collect around major inventions and add to the effectiveness 
of their influence. But there are many small inventions that stand alone, 
more or less independent of the larger ones, as for instance, the paper 
clip, the key ring, the rubber band, the picture hanger. The cumulative 
influence of these many thousands of small inventions and improvements 
must give impetus to the flow of the stream of culture. The story is 
incomplete without the account of the derivative influences previously 
noted, or without consideration of the influence of smaller inventions. 

There are social factors as well as mechanical ones in social change. 
The data in the preceding sections give undue emphasis to the mechanical 
causes of social change since the social causes are not considered. That 
social factors, as truly as mechanical ones, cause social changes is seen 
from a study of the introduction and development of the parole system. 
The history of the parole system shows that it had its origin in lack of 
work for English prisoners in Australian colonies, in prison overcrowding, 
in the growth of sentiment against brutality, in the attitude that punish- 
ment should not be so much the reason for imprisonment as reformation, 
and by the discovery on the part of certain prison officials that early 
release often brought about reformation. Further precedents for parole 
were found in prisoners' aid societies, in methods of handling juvenile 
delinquents through probation, and in the old practice of executive pardon 
or commutation. Such are the usual accounts of the development of parole. 
Parole, which thus had its legal beginning in 1847, and in its modern form 
first entered the United States in New York in 1876 at the Elmira reform- 
atory, and which has spread widely in the twentieth century, 61 appears 
from the general accounts to be an important change without mechanical 
invention as a cause. No doubt, many social changes are of this nature, 
particularly in such fields as art, religion, ethics and education. That 

60 Cited by F. S. Chapin in Cultural Change, New York and London, 1928, p. 258, from 
Simon Kuznets, Secular Movements in Production and Prices. 

61 On the extent of parole systems, see Chap. XXII. 

[ 160 ] 


the usual history of parole omits reference to mechanical inventions does 
not mean, however, that there may not have been such factors. On the 
contrary, some part, however far removed, was probably played by 
mechanical changes. For instance, mechanical changes led to the growth 
of cities, with increase in crime, and the increasing cost of taking care of 
the criminal in turn very probably encouraged the development of the 
more economical parole system. And perhaps the inventions leading to 
changes in family life which promoted juvenile delinquency encouraged 
the reformatory idea back of the parole system. The transportation and 
communication inventions also aided in the supervision of paroled 
prisoners. Indeed, the whole humanitarian movement has very probably 
been encouraged in part by the increase of wealth, ease and tenure of 
life. This illustration of parole will serve as a possible corrective for any 
undue stressing of the mechanical factor in social change. 

Social factors in social changes are often derivatives, in part, from 
mechanical inventions, and vice versa. Not all social changes are so rela- 
tively free from mechanical factors as the changes in the prison system. 
But even those changes that are very closely related to a mechanical 
invention have social factors. Thus the declining birth rate is said to be a 
result of contraceptive inventions, but it is clear that there are additional 
social factors. Certainly the attitude of the churches is one such factor. 
Another factor is the social conditions of life in cities, where the difficulties 
of rearing children successfully are great. So also the birth rate is affected 
by the competition of other appeals to the family budget, such as amuse- 
ments, new conveniences and educational opportunities. Some of these 
social factors, however, are seen to be derivatives in part from mechanical 
causes. Thus the conditions of city life which make it difficult to rear 
children in cities are in part the product of invention, such as the apart- 
ment house. Inventional factors are likewise derivatives in part from 
social changes. 

The effects of invention on society are of various degrees and kinds. 
Perhaps the first effect of inventions is the change in the habits of the 
persons using them, as in the case of peoples who use typewriters instead 
of pen and ink. When the persons whose habits are changed are numerous 
then a social class is affected. Thus, there grows up a class of women 
typists and stenographers, who have a place in society in relation to 
other groups and classes. 62 Another effect is to change certain organiza- 
tions. Thus the organization of various businesses is affected by the use 
of typewriters. Sometimes inventions have far removed effects on a 
social institution in the sociological sense of the word. Thus, such an 
institution as the family is affected by the employment of daughters, 

62 On the number of women in selected occupational groups and classes, see Figures 3 
and 4 in Chap. XIV. 

f 161 1 


wives and single women in connection with machines in offices and 
factories. Further influences are those affecting ethics and codes of 
conduct which usually lag behind the material changes. For instance, 
at one time it was almost a moral precept that woman's place was in the 
home. The appearance of women on the streets and in places of business 
for many years slowly affected manners and customs closely related to 
ethical codes. A final influence to be noted is that on systems of thought 
or social philosophies which also has a tendency to lag behind other 
influences. Thus the inventions attracting women away from the home 
may be an element in a social philosophy regarding the equality of 
men and women, feminism and social justice which is just beginning 
to be recognized by certain elements in the population. The effects 
of inventions are as various then as are the different types of social 

It takes time for the social influences of inventions to become fully felt. 
The quickest effect is on the habits of the persons who come in direct 
contact with the invention in its use. It takes longer to influence an 
organization or a social class and perhaps still longer to change social 
institutions, theories of ethics, or social philosophies. 

There are social inventions as well as mechanical ones, effective in social 
change. An invention is a new form made up of existing elements which 
may be material or non-material. Thus the telegraph was a new form 
made up of a combination of existing material elements, wires, batteries, 
keys, electro-magnets, etc. But not all the elements are material, for 

Armistice day. 

Auto tourist camp. 

Australian ballot. 

Basket ball. 

Bonus to wage earners. 


Chain store. 

Charity organization society. 

City manager plan. 

Civil service system. 

Clearing house. 

Community chest. 

Company union. 

Correspondence school. 

Day nursery 

Direct primary. 


Federal Reserve system. 

Four-H clubs. 

Group insurance. 

Holding company. 

Indeterminate sentence. 

Intelligence tests. 

Investment trust. 

Instalment selling. 

Junior college. 

Juvenile court. 

Ku Klux Klan. 

League of Nations. 

Legal aid society. 

Lock out. 

Matrimonial bureau. 

Minimum wage law. 

Mother's pension. 

National economic council. 




Psychological clinics. 

Proportional representation. 


Research institute. 

Rochdale cooperative. 

Rotary club. 


Social settlement. 

Summer camp. 

Tag day. 

Visiting teacher. 

Universal suffrage. 



there is the idea of the code, which is an element in the telegraph com- 
plex. Similarly a new social form is made up of existing elements usually 
of a non-mechanical nature. An example is the commission form of 
government for cities, made up of elements among which were the con- 
cepts of the mayor, city council, cabinet, a board of directors, and an 
executive committee. 63 Since inventions are usually thought of as mechan- 
ical, it may be well to enumerate a few social forms that may be called 
social inventions. The list shown on page 162 of fifty inventions of this 
type may give a better idea of what is thought of as a social invention 
than would a definition in abstract terms. 


There has been presented in the three preceding sections a descrip- 
tion of the major influences in recent years which science and the machine 
have exerted upon society, and also an account of how the influences 
operate; and in the first section a brief summary was given of some of 
the more important of these general trends. The concluding section is 
devoted to the presentation of certain issues which, it is thought, are 
important for a society interested in the direction in which it is moving 
and in the plan and control of its future. The purpose is only to set 
forth the problems. No attempt is made to say what the policies regarding 
them should be. These problems are of two kinds. One is that of the 
encouragement of invention, and the other deals with society's relation 
to the invention which it promotes. 

Delays in Invention. The first problem to be discussed concerns the 
delay in developing an invention. Thus there is a long period of time 
between the date of originating an invention and the time when it be- 
comes ready for commerce. This interval has been measured in the case 
of many of the inventions previously listed, and it has been found to 
vary from two years to several hundred, the median interval being 
thirty-three years. Following the date when the invention is ready for 
practical use, improvements occur in most cases fairly rapidly, because 
no doubt brighter chances for profits stimulate study, manufacture and 
risk taking. It is this early period of gestation that appears slow, and 
toward which attention should be directed. Perhaps endowment, which 
has proved invaluable for research in pure sciences and in the medical 
sciences, may be a solution. The industrial research laboratories may 
solve it in some cases, for in these laboratories the delay between the 
conception date and success date is said to be less in general than with 
the individual inventor. Great prospects of financial reward to the in- 
ventor also lessen these delays. Objections to such proposals are readily 
at hand, however, for, in the nature of the case, aiding inventors and 

63 Some of the governmental forms are summarized in Chap. XXIX. 

[ 163 ] 


nascent inventions is a gamble. Yet where the invention concerned is new 
and without substitutes, and where the need is great, the conditions argue 
for success, unless there be some necessary element missing. An effective 
cure for cancer has not yet been forthcoming, yet endowed research 

Incentives to Invention. Related problems center in the patent laws, 
our one institutional expression for the encouragement of the inventor. 
There are several ways in which it is admitted the patent laws do not 
work wholly satisfactorily. For even witlj the protection of patents, the 
money return to the inventor is on the average quite small and hardly 
equal to the wages he might have earned during the time in which effort 
was put on the invention. 64 

There is thus the problem of the incentive and the protection of the 
inventor, which are hardly satisfactory when his reward proves slow. 
The low return may be caused not by the patent laws, however, but rather 
by the nature of the invention (for not all inventions are in great demand) 
and its exploitation, often a difficult economic undertaking. Thus the 
problem of incentive to the individual inventor is not solved by patent 
laws. Another type of encouragement has been tried with some slight 
success by industries in giving bonuses to employees for inventive 
suggestions. 65 

Abuse of Patent Procedure. Another problem for which a solution 
is sought in patent legislation concerns the abuse of the monopoly control 
of a patented invention. Of several such abuses, the most serious is the 
denial in some cases to the public of the use of the invention. Various 
remedies have been proposed; that of compulsory licensing is found in 
other countries, though difficult to operate in practice. 

The Death Rate of Inventions. The patent laws do not encompass 
all of the social aspects of inventing. Even after inventions are made, 
patented, and demonstrated mechanically, there is a very high death rate 
during their infancy. Perhaps many deserve to die; it may suffice that 
one of the competitors lives. But this is not always true, as perhaps was 
the case with the magnetic phonograph. A successful competitor or the 
failure to obtain simplicity, durability, cheapness or some other desired 
quality is the usual reason for the large proportion of inventions failing 
to attain use. Very obstructive also are financial and organizational diffi- 
culties which beset effectively the pathway to success of many inventions. 
Problems of inventions do not center wholly around the inventor. Cooper- 
ating technicians and business men share a significant part in the success- 
ful launching of innovations. 

64 From an unpublished study by L. J. Carr of the University of Michigan. 
66 Dickinson, Z. C., Suggestions from Employees, University of Michigan, Michigan 
Business Studies, vol. I, no. 3, 1927. 

[ 164 ] 


This problem of the high infant death rate of inventions is being solved 
in part by the great growth of industrial research laboratories. Large 
scale organization has swept into its train invention, along with economic 
organizations. Industrial and consulting research laboratories in the 
United States numbered 999 in 1927, according to a survey 66 made at 
that time. The growth of science and the cost of equipment no doubt 
aided such a development, which may be affecting the single inventor 
as the factory affected the handicraftsman. A growing proportion of 
significant inventions now comes from these laboratories. The future 
of many changes in civilizations will be determined by what goes on in 
them. So important an agency of social change needs to be studied. 

What Inventions to Be Encouraged. The foregoing matters of policy 
deal witR various aspects of inventions and inventive ability. Policies of a 
different order deal with the direction which invention takes. A society 
interested in where it is going will find it important to concern itself 
with the question of what types of invention should be encouraged. Thus 
society values very greatly medical discovery, and much money and 
attention are given to it. It seems to be valuing research less in pure 
science than in applied science, as is indicated in a later chapter on social 
attitudes, if the attention given to pure science in published articles in 
general literature be an index. 67 The wishes of society are not, however, 
the sole determinants of invention, any more than necessity is the mother 
of invention. The elements that go to make up an invention must be 
present before the synthesis can take place, no matter how much it be 
desired. Earlier peoples needed and wanted medical progress as much as 
modern man and put about as much time proportionately on trying to 
heal and cure, but it was not until science had grown sufficiently to accu- 
mulate the necessary elements of knowledge that medical progress 
occurred. Nevertheless, the particular social valuations of society do 
determine how much effort is put in this or that direction. Effort may be 
fruitful in a measure, although there is a certain inevitability about the 
grand sweep of invention, especially apparent when the possibilities of 
human control are considered. Still, it is important to question the social 
valuations in regard to invention, particularly as to the relative amount 
of encouragement given to social invention as compared with mechanical 

Indeed, instead of comparing the attention given to social and 
mechanical invention, it might be well to ask first whether society wishes 
to encourage mechanical invention and natural science at all. The ques- 
tion appears either absurd or academic, yet the changes which many 
conservatives object to are the result of invention. And even radicals 

66 National Research Council, July 1927, Bulletin no. 60. 

67 See Chap. VIII. 

[ 165 ] 


have suggested "declaring a moratorium" on invention until society 
catches up. 

A New Environment. Invention is creating a new material environ- 
ment which is itself changing swiftly. Humanity must adjust itself to 
this material culture as it changes. Invention thus causes for man prob- 
lems of adjustment. It is hardly possible to discuss such problems in 
detail here for there are so many of them; perhaps most of the present 
day social problems are of this nature. But it is desirable to see this 
problem of adaptation as a whole. 

The Lag in Adaptation. The problem of adaptation is characterized 
by a time element. The inventions occur first, and only later do the 
institutions of society change in conformity. Material culture and social 
institutions are not independent of each other, for civilization is highly 
articulated like a piece of machinery, so that a change in one part tends 
to effect changes in other parts but only after a delay. Man with habits 
and society with patterns of action are slow to change to meet the new 
material conditions. International relations are adjusting only slowly 
to the great linking forces of communication and transportation. These 
delays are costly. Thus, child labor in industry was a product of the delay 
on the part of the family and society in adjusting to the factory; and 
many thousands of unnecessary industrial accidents were the result of a 
maladaptation until, after long delay, better adjustments were made 
through the provision of safety devices and compensation plans. Tech- 
nology seems to change sooner than do social institutions. Society will 
hardly decide to discourage science and invention, for these have added 
knowledge and have brought material welfare. And as to the difficulties 
and problems they create, the solution would seem to lie not so much in 
discouraging natural science as in encouraging social science. 

The problem of the better adaptation of society to its large and 
changing material culture and the problem of lessening the delay in this 
adjustment are cardinal problems for social science. It seems very difficult 
to anticipate inventions and their social effects. Yet the researches of the 
preceding pages suggest that with further study some success may be 




IMPRESSIVE as technological changes have been in other fields, 
there is no more striking example than in communications of how 
they operate to instigate social change, modifying the material 
environment, creating new and perplexing problems of adjustment and 
changing manners and morals. Communications may be studied either 
in terms of the symbols which are transmitted or the agencies facilitating 
transmission. In the present chapter the emphasis is placed upon the 
latter in order to illustrate the integrative tendencies and to throw 
into relief the problems which modern communication agencies have 

The agencies of transportation which increase the potential number 
of our personal contacts, and the agencies for the transmission of messages 
from person to person or en masse which provide individual contacts, 
show many innovations as well as changes in the utilization of the agen- 
cies. Particularly noteworthy is the rapidity with which new inventions 
have been adopted and diffused. The automobile, the airplane, the motion 
picture and the radio have all had their development since the turn of the 
twentieth century. Each new communication agency bids for public favor 
and its ultimate acceptance adds to the complexity of our civilization. 

The surface picture is one of chaos and conflict: railroads competing 
with bus lines, buses competing with street railways, newspapers con- 
cerned over the broadcasting of advertisements, the motion picture 
competing with radio and already alarmed at the possibilities of televi- 
sion. Out of the seeming chaos, however, certain tendencies appear. There 
has developed a partially integrated system whereby contacts are estab- 
lished between individuals with a maximum of ease over an area of ever 
increasing radius. 


The function of transportation agencies is to provide physical con- 
veyance for human beings or goods. They have importance for our sub- 
ject because they extend the range of contacts and make possible face to 
face meetings with increasing frequency and ease for individuals normally 

[ 167 ] 


separated. In this chapter, only passenger functions will be considered, 
for while the movement of goods has significance in studying social con- 
tacts it is indirect and secondary. 

The historical development of transportation agencies has been ade- 
quately treated in other studies and will not be reviewed here. Further- 
more, selection is required from among the many contemporary agencies. 
Horse drawn vehicles and barge canal systems, for example, have played 
and still play roles of importance, although their relative significance for 
human transportation is now so slight in the United States that they are 
omitted from consideration. On the other hand, steam railroads, electric 
railways, highways, motor vehicles, water carriers and the airplane are 
integral units in the transportation system. The growth, utilization, 
interrelationship and social effects of these agencies, commercial or 
private, form the subject of this section. 1 

The Railroads. In 1930 and the years immediately following Ameri- 
can railroads were confronted by problems involving both financial 
stability and actual operation. "The plight of the railroads " was a general 
catchphrase covering a variety of specific items. Many services had been 
curtailed and numerous short lines abandoned. Passenger traffic, which 
had long been declining, began to drop more sharply, and the per capita 
mileage travelled in 1930 had receded nearly to the 1900 level. On the 
financial side, railroad securities were suffering depreciation. 

These evidences of the changing status of the railroads gain impor- 
tance when viewed against the historical background of national develop- 
ment. In the post-Civil War era it was the railroads that made possible 
the continuous expansion of the western frontiers. They furthered the 
vital industrial development following the Civil War. They were a factor 
in the movements of the people and the determination of population 
centers. In fact, the railroads were an outstanding influence in economic 
and social life during the last half of the nineteenth century. 

In addition to their economic effects, the railroads exerted psycho- 
logical influences. As the outward world was transformed, the minds of 
men were reoriented and new horizons established. Communities connected 
by inferior highways were now joined by ribbons of steel over which 
locomotives ran at incredible speed. An older isolation disappeared. The 
railroads wove themselves into the fabric of the nation's culture. They 
were the dominant agency of communication at the outset of the century. 
From then on to the end of 1931, however, statistics give striking evidence 
of changes which were threatening the preeminent position held by the 
railroads for nearly one hundred years. 

1 In the pages that follow many statements and conclusions will be based upon data 
that are not included in full. The complete statistical basis for each statement and generali- 
zation will usually be found in the monograph in this series, entitled Communication 
Agencies and Social Life, and frequent reference to this will be made. 

f 168 1 


Railroad Trackage and Traffic. In 1900 locations and interconnec- 
tions of present day railroad trackage were virtually complete. The 193,- 
346 miles of first track owned by American roads in 1900 increased to a 
maximum of 254,037 in 1916, and declined by 1930 to 249,052. 2 Significant 
as trackage figures may be in indicating "coverage," they do not serve 
as a useful index of passenger traffic. More adequate are "passengers 
carried" and "passenger-miles," 3 and Interstate Commerce Commission 
data for all steam railways in the United States 4 show that measured by 
either, a maximum passenger volume was attained approximately in the 
year 1920. In this year 1,269,913,000 passengers were carried 47,369,906,- 
000 passenger-miles, or 444.6 miles per capita. This is more than double 
the 1900 figures for passengers carried (576,831,000), passenger-miles 
(16,038,076,000) and passenger-miles per capita (212.5). The sharpness 
of the recent decline is evident from the fact that in 1930 only 707,987,000 
passengers were transported on all roads, with a total of 26,875,642,000 
passenger-miles, or 218.3 miles per capita. 

During the past decade the decline in these indexes, except for one 
year (1923), has been consistent. It is thus apparent that the difficulties 
from which the railroads suffer have not been caused primarily, but rather 
aggravated by, the current economic depression. The Interstate Com- 
merce Commission has indicated the tendency toward decline, even within 
years of prosperity, by a downward sloping trend line for the years 1922- 
1930. It is significant that the Commission found it inadvisable to fit a 
single trend line to a longer period because of the introduction into the 
railroad passenger traffic situation of "a new force in recent years" 
the automobile. 5 What the automobile has meant for the rail- 
roads is shown more clearly in the subsequent discussion of the motor 
vehicle. Its diffusion has resulted unquestionably in competition that 
strikes the railroads at vital points. 

2 Data from Statement 53, appearing annually in Statistics of Railways in the United 
States, issued by the Interstate Commerce Commission. For a more detailed analysis of 
trackage figures see the monograph, section I. 

3 Figures for "passengers carried" represent a summation of the totals of each road, 
and accordingly involve duplication in all cases of interroad journeys. "Passengers carried" 
is less satisfactory as an index of travel than "passenger-miles" (the number of passengers 
carried one mile) or "passenger-miles per capita." While a change in operating control of 
given trackage might change the figures for "passengers carried," it would not influence 
the data pertaining to "passenger-miles." Figures presented in Table 1 on "Miles per 
Passenger per Road" are in each case less than would be corresponding figures for "average 
journey per passenger," which are not available. 

4 U. S. Interstate Commerce Commission: Revenue Traffic Statistics of Class I Steam 
Railways in the United States, Statement no. M-220, monthly, and Statistics of Railways 
in the United States, annual. Cf. the monograph, section I. Data used here exclude non- 
revenue passengers, and pertain to all railroads, rather than to Class I roads only. 

5 U. S. Interstate Commerce Commission, Bureau of Statistics, Graphical Supplement 
to Monthly Reports, Series, 1931, no. 5. See pp. 172-180; see also Figure 1 of the monograph 
for the graph referred to. 

[ 169 ] 


The influence of the automobile is apparent when passenger traffic 
data are analyzed in terms of length of journey. It is customary to dis- 
tinguish commutation and non-commutation traffic and the significance 
of the two is obviously different. The former is characterized by greater 
frequency, lesser mileage and habitual routine; the latter ordinarily 
involves trips of less frequency, greater distance and some uniqueness 
of occurrence. Commutation traffic is evidence of the overflow of the city 
into suburban areas and reflects an extension of the radius of the cus- 
tomary circle of daily life. 6 During recent years when the total passenger 
traffic has been declining, commutation traffic has grown. It follows that 
the declines in non-commutation traffic have been even greater than the 
totals indicate. 

The essential commutation and non-commutation traffic data are 
given in Table 1. The extent to which commutation traffic has gained 
while other traffic has declined will appear from a comparison of columns 
2 and 3. The gains in commutation mileage (col. 2), however, are not 
primarily due to increased numbers of passengers, for the average com- 
muter's journey has lengthened by nearly one mile during the same 
period (col. 6). Between 1922 and 1930, commutation passenger-miles 
increased by 8.8 percent, while commutation miles per passenger per road 
increased 6.4 percent, or almost enough to account for the entire com- 
mutation increase. At the same time, the miles per passenger per road for 


Passenger-miles (thousands) 

Passenger- miles per capita 

Miles per passenger per road 

Year ended 

Dec. 31 




















































































Data from Table IV A of U. S. Interstate Commerce Commission, Statistics Bureau, Annual Report on 
Statiftict of Railways in the United States, 1930. Per capita ratios are based on population estimates shown in 
Appendix A of the monograph. 

6 Figures for 1931 are preliminary and subject to revision; they are from Revenue Traffic Statistics of Class 
I Steam Railways in the United States, Interstate Commerce Commission, Statement no. M-220, December, 1931. 

6 See Table 10 in Chap. IX. 



non-commutation traffic grew consistently from 54.68 to 75.95 miles 
(col. 7) or 38.9 percent. The result could be explained by relative increases 
in the length or number of longer journeys, or by relative decreases in 
the length or number of shorter non-commutation journeys. There is 
insufficient evidence to indicate which of these factors has been effective. 
The conclusion is nevertheless supportable that it is primarily the short 
haul passenger traffic, other than commutation, that the railroads have 
been losing. 

Pullman Traffic. The preceding data give no direct evidence con- 
cerning the tendencies with reference to long hauls. Pullman Company 
figures indicate that losses have not occurred in long haul passenger 
traffic to the same extent as in short haul traffic. Since 1922 the totals 
representing passengers carried in Pullman cars have been segregated as 
berth and seat passengers and it may be assumed that the former, in 
general, represent longer hauls. In 1922, 19,725,000 berth passengers were 
carried; in 1926, the maximum for the decade was reached, 22,658,000. 
There has been a decline in each subsequent year, and in 1930 the total 
berth passengers numbered 18,499,000. The total Pullman passenger 
miles (berth and seat passengers) declined somewhat between 1924 and 
1930, but these drops are by no means parallel to that of railroad passenger 
traffic as a whole. Since 1924 the length of journey of Pullman passengers 
has increased regularly each year and this has tended to offset the decline 
in the total number of passengers carried. These Pullman data support 
the conclusion that it is the short haul passenger traffic, other than 
commutation, that the railroads have lost. 7 

The Problem of the Railroads. The foregoing changes in railway 
passenger traffic cannot be interpreted as reflecting a decreasing need for 
transportation throughout the country. The railroads have been instru- 
mental in binding the nation together and in creating an interdependence 
that could scarcely have been realized without them. The interdependence 
still exists and also the necessity of rapid transportation between com- 
munities. The railroad unquestionably induced habits of mobility within 
the population and there is no reason to assume these habits have lost 
strength. The changes give evidence, rather, of the new competition from 
the motor vehicle. Imperceptibly but surely the automobile, and especially 
the private vehicle, encroached upon the short haul traffic of the railroads. 
A shift in performance of function has occurred. The problem is now 
one of integration, for both railway and motor vehicle have become 
accepted parts of the contemporary social pattern. In furthering the use 

7 Data of Pullman traffic compiled from Growth of Traffic on Steam Railways of the 
United States, 1900-1928. Interstate Commerce Commission, Statement no. 2982 (mimeo- 
graphed) ; Statistics of Railways in the United States, op, cit., Table B, annually; and Stand- 
ard Statistics Company, New York, Standard Corporation Records, Individual Reports 
Section. For more detailed analysis of the data see the monograph, section I. 

[ 171 ] 


of the automobile, which is admirably adapted for short journeys, there 
has been created a competition between two agencies of transportation 
which seriously affects the older of them. A general question involves the 
advisability of stimulating a new type of transportation agency without 
attempting to consider in advance the probable effects upon agencies 
already firmly interwoven into the culture. The problem involves the 
possibility, through foresight and control, of making necessary adjust- 
ments between competing agencies more gradual, and, through planning, 
of eliminating some of the disquieting consequences that inevitably follow 
when shifts occur that are controlled only by opportunistic competition. 
Since with the present agencies the shift has occurred, the immediate 
problem is that of reconciling the roles of the two. 

Further discussion of these points cannot be undertaken until the 
place of the automobile in the communication system has been outlined. 

The Motor Vehicle. In 1900 there were 8,000 "horseless carriages" 
in the United States, according to estimate. On January 1, 1931, the 
number of motor vehicles registered was 25,814,103. It is probable 
that no invention of such far reaching importance was ever diffused 
with such rapidity or so quickly exerted influences that ramified 
through the national culture, transforming even habits of thought 
and language. 

The Number of Motor Vehicles: Private Automobiles. Some form of 
motor vehicle registration was first required by all states in 1913. Between 
1913 and 1931 the increase in registration in the United States was 
twenty-fold. 8 This phenomenal growth involved a displacement of earlier 
vehicles, such as the horse carriage and the bicycle. It also involved habit - 
uation to the use of the automobile of classes in the population who for- 
merly owned no vehicle of private transportation. Within the space of a 
few years, for vast numbers motor travel ceased to be a novelty and came 
to be regarded as a necessity. At the end of 1930 there was one automobile 
for every 4.63 persons in the population. The ratio varied considerably 
by states : at the extremes, California contained one automobile for every 
2.78 persons, Alabama one for every 9.55 persons. 9 

Trucks and commercial vehicles, important as they are in the total 
story of the motor vehicle, are secondary as agencies of human mobility. 
It is the private automobile, the bus, the taxicab that are of immediate 
concern. Since 1921 the Bureau of Public Roads has each year assembled 

8 Prior to 1913 data are unreliable. Even in 1931 registration practices were far from 
uniform, with the result that entirely comparable data are not even now available, though 
the magnitude of growth has been such that statistical shortcomings do not affect general 
conclusions. Detailed registration data for all the states are given in the monograph, Tables 
9. 10 and 13. 

9 Facts and Figures of the Automobile Industry, National Automobile Chamber of Com- 
merce, New York, 1931, p. 15. See also figures in Chap. XVIII. 

[ 172 ] 


for the country the registrations of private passenger automobiles, cars 
for hire, taxicabs and buses combined. The steady increase in these 
registrations, until 1930, is shown in Table 2. 

Although the total number of motor vehicles increased slightly be- 
tween 1929 and 1930, the increase was primarily in the number of trucks, 
and even these declined in 1931. When trucks are removed the losses 
shown in Table 2 (cols. 2, 4 and 5) appear. It is safe to conclude that the 
declines of 1930 and 1931 are attributable primarily to declines in the use 
of private automobiles. 

It is impossible completely to segregate the private passenger auto- 
mobile from the taxicab and the bus. A special survey in 1925 by the 





Numb r 

Population per 



vehicle 6 








11 6 







13 479 608 

8 3 

2 615 480 

24 1 




1 981 041 

14 7 


17 496 420 

6 6 

2 035 771 

13 2 


19 237 171 

6 1 

1 740 751 

9 9 


















5 3 

e 62 327 

e_0 3 


22 347 800 

5 5 

e 711 46<j 

e gj 

U. S. Bureau of Public Roads, Table B,P.R.Misc.A-l. S-March 11, 1924, and annual continuations. 
As adjusted these appear in Facts and Figures of the Automobile Industry, op, cit., 1931, p. 16. The National 
Automobile Chamber of Commerce has kindly supplied the figure in col. 2 for 1931 and a revised figure as here 
given for 1930. 

6 Based upon estimates of population on July 1, each year. Population estimates used are given in 
Appendix A of the monograph. 

' Minus sign ( ) denotes decrease. 

Bureau of Public Roads showed the number of taxicabs and cars for hire 
to be nearly double the number of buses. Together these classes were but 
1.2 percent of the vehicles recorded for that year in Table 2. While the 
ratio may have changed somewhat in later years, it is evident that among 
motor vehicles the private automobile is preeminent. With the acceptance 
of the automobile the individual citizen in virtually all classes of the 
population has acquired a vehicle that gives a freedom of control in 
personal transportation such as never before existed. Potential mobility 
is increased immeasurably and easy, swift movement over distances 

[ 173 ] 


formerly traversed but rarely is achieved. The result has been a transfor- 
mation of social habits. 10 

The Motor Bus: Numbers and Control. While all evidence indicates 
that the private automobile is primarily responsible for traffic losses to 
steam railroads and electric lines, 11 the motor bus has also assumed 
importance as a competitor of both. It not merely competes but supple- 
ments. In both local and interurban transportation the bus has advan- 
tages that indicate for it a lasting function. In 1930 estimates show 
48,250 of these vehicles in operation for revenue, and 47,150 for non- 
revenue purposes. 12 The non-revenue buses, in consequence of more 
extensive use for school transportation, have shown the more rapid rate 
of increase. Of the revenue buses, it is estimated that 13,350 were operat- 
ing on city routes, and 32,150 in intercity and interstate service. Buses 
in the latter services in 1930 were approximately two and one-half times 
as numerous as those in local service. On the other hand, local buses 
carried 1,350,000,000 revenue passengers, while intercity buses carried 
but 428,000,000. Passenger-miles of city buses were slightly more than 
half the passenger-miles of intercity buses in the same year. Measured 
either by passengers carried or passenger-miles, the intercity buses have 
shown more rapid and continuous growth. Unfortunately data are not 
available to permit direct analysis of the extent to which the bus is a 
competitor of urban-suburban electric lines and steam roads respectively. 
Some indication of the permeation of the country by buses is shown by 
comparing the 249,433 miles of first tracks operated by American steam 
railroads in 1929 with the estimated 332,500 miles of intercity bus routes, 
although admittedly this comparison fails to take into consideration 
differences in intensity of use. 

There has been steady growth since 1924 in the number of buses 
operated by electric railway companies and steam railroads. In 1924, 
Bus Transportation estimates, electric railway companies controlled 
about 3,000 vehicles; in 1930, 11,827, or approximately four-fifths of all 

10 The vertical diffusion of the automobile, explicable in terms of increased cheapness 
of cars, coupled with a generally high purchasing power, has resulted in a marked decline 
in the domestic use of motorcycles and sidewheel vehicles. Data on this point are included 
in the monograph, Table 13. 

The increased production of closed cars has contributed to the general utility of the 
automobile, since it facilitates wider usage and greater comfort under varied weather 
conditions. As the automobile becomes generally used, the demand for comfort assumes 
importance, and increased comfort furthers the use of the automobile. In 1931, 92.9 percent 
of all cars produced in the United States and Canada were of the closed type, in contrast 
to 22.1 percent in 1921. Cf. the monograph, Table 14. 

11 Cf. below, sections I and IV. 

12 These and subsequent data pertaining to "buses are selected from annual statistical 
numbers of Bus Transportation, a trade publication. Detailed tables are presented in the 
monograph. In 1931 Bus Transportation changed somewhat the basis of its estimates. 
The 1931 figures show slight gains over 1930. Cf. Bus Transportation, vol. 11, pp. 60-65, 

[ 174 ] 


city buses. Their hold on local bus operations is still increasing and the 
problem of relationship between the two types of services seems well on 
the way toward solution, by a process of unified corporate control com- 
bined with coordination of functions. 

Steam railroads operated about 375 buses in 1925 and 1,759 in 1930. 
It is not improbable that they will seek in the future to acquire greater 
control of the buses that now compete with them and to effect a more 
efficient and economical coordination of services thereby. Public policy 
with respect to this foreshadowed development may clearly point in 
either of two directions: On the one hand, the integrative tendency may 
be encouraged, supported by arguments found in the monopolistic char- 
acter of transportation, in the vital relationship between the carriers and 
the nation's industrial and financial structure and in the requirements of 
public service. On the other hand, if the integrative tendency is deemed 
undesirable, it would seem to imply that attention should be given to 
delimiting the areas of competition between the two sets of agencies. 
These questions thus intrude: To what extent should a new nation wide 
agency of transportation be allowed to develop in competition with the 
rail system; and on the other hand, to what extent should these two 
agencies be deliberately coordinated? 

Highways and Highway Utilization. What the basic rail network is 
to railroad passenger traffic, the system of American highways is to 
motor vehicle travel. Highways and motor vehicles have developed in 
close relationship, each effecting changes in the other and in the social 
habits related thereto. 13 

Highway Mileage. Although early data are unreliable, the extra- 
ordinary development of highways has been apparent even to casual 
observation. In 1904 the total estimated mileage of "rural roads" (i.e., 
excluding streets of municipalities) was 2,151,379, of which 153,645 miles 
were surfaced; about 144 miles had "high type surface," or some form 
of paving. By 1930 the estimated total had increased more than 40 per- 
cent, to 3,009,066. Surfaced roads had grown by 330.5 percent, to 693,559 
miles; and high type surfaced roads, almost non-existent in 1904, had 
grown to 125,708 miles. Whereas surfaced roads in 1904 were 7.1 percent 
of the total, in 1930 they were 23.0 percent. Of these surfaced roads, the 
proportion with a high type surface increased in the same period from 
0.1 percent to 18.1 percent. 14 

These highway extensions, demanded by the automobile, have at the 
same time facilitated and stimulated its use. With a vehicle at hand over 
which the user has almost complete control and with highway networks 

13 See discussion of social effects of automobiles in Chaps. Ill, IX and XVIII. 

14 Data from United States Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Public Roads, 
Table D-l, 1929 (unpublished), based on figures compiled by the Bureau as reported to 
it by state authorities. C/. the monograph, Table 15. 

[ 175 ] 


on which it may be freely run, a multiplication of social contacts over 
wider ranges of territory is all but inevitable. For rural populations the 
importance is even greater, for enhancement of mobility is accompanied 
by a decrease in physical isolation as well. 

Automobiles and Highway Engineering. The use of the automobile 
has introduced entirely new highway engineering problems. Old roadways 
that served adequately for horse drawn vehicles at once became anti- 
quated. With high-powered cars and high speeds roads must be straight- 
ened, curves lengthened, vision increased, shoulders carefully planned, 
embankments equipped with guards, grade crossings protected and sur- 
faces increased in trueness and durability. These are but typical require- 
ments confronting the engineers who are concerned with the swift and 
certain flow of traffic. 15 

The extension and improvement of highways brought increased 
vehicle speeds. Connecticut was first to limit automobile highway speeds 
by law (15 miles an hour, 1901). By 1923 all states had such statutes and 
analysis indicates a steady increase in the maximum speed permitted by 
law. In 1905 the median average for those states where regulations were 
enacted was 25 miles an hour; in 1919 this had increased to 30; in 1925, 
to 35; and in 1929 the median average had reached 40. 16 The automobile 
has been an important contributory influence in increasing the tempo of 
modern life. 

The Problem of Centralized Control. From colonial days onward roads 
were for the most part a responsibility of local governments and an 
important reason for the latter's existence. The automobile has made 
state wide and national highway planning essential. Roads must serve 
the integrated needs of wide areas throughout which standard construc- 
tion practices and traffic rules must be formulated and introduced. It is 
an accepted principle that the poorest unit in any roadway determines 
the capacity of the entire road. Purely local planning and construction 
accordingly become anachronistic. 

In 1900 only seven states had even rudimentary highway administra- 
tion; by 1917, highway commissions in some form were found in all. 17 
Nevertheless local administration, unrelated to the needs of larger areas, 
still remains in many respects a troublesome social lag. Those who con- 

16 Cf. A. G. Bruce and R. D. Brown, "The Trend of Highway Design," Public Roads, 
vol. 8, pp. 7-14, 1927. 

16 Compiled by John P. Horlacher from analysis of speed legislation in the 48 states. 
Employment of the arithmetic mean instead of the median does not change the results. 
In some states a specific maximum speed is not designated, but drivers are held to a rate 
that is customarily phrased as "reasonable and proper." These "reasonable and proper" 
states are not included in the figures given above. When included, by assuming that they 
fall at the upper end of the distribution of maximum speeds, no differences in the median 
resulted. For details see the monograph, Table 16. 

17 See Chaps. XXVII and XXV. 

[ 176 ] 


demn centralizing tendencies in American government cannot avoid the 
obligation to reconcile a decentralizing policy with the advantages of 
integration. In the case of highways the smooth and direct flow of traffic 
seems to require further centralization of administrative responsibility. 
If so, the fact should be accepted and impediments in the form of legalistic 
survivals of local autonomy should be removed as quickly as possible. 
The logical alternatives are to contend that human mobility itself is an 
undesirable phenomenon or that the advantages of efficiency would be 
offset by other disadvantages that are not apparent. 18 

Automobile Utilization. The rapid growth of automobile ownership 
and the national permeation of the highway system, already traced, 
provided unprecedented motives and opportunities for mobility. Although 
travel possibilities hitherto existed in the rail and water systems their 
use was subject to certain restrictions that did not pertain to the auto- 
mobile. In no inconsiderable degree the rapid popular acceptance of the 
new vehicle centered in the fact that it gave to the owner a control over 
his movements that the older agencies denied. Close at hand and ready 
for instant use, it carried its owner from door to destination by routes he 
himself selected, and on schedules of his own making; baggage incon- 
veniences were minimized and perhaps most important of all, the auto- 
mobile made possible the movement of an entire family at costs that were 
relatively small. Convenience augmented utility and accelerated adop- 
tion of the vehicle. 

A distinction may be drawn between necessity and pleasure travel. 
The automobile has many uses in connection with the former and it 
fosters the latter. The short trip, the vacation tour, the after dinner ride, 
the Sunday picnic are forms of pleasure travel stimulated by the motor 
car. In addition, there are many uses for the automobile in the day's 
routine. Imperceptibly, car ownership has created an "automobile 
psychology"; the automobile has become a dominant influence in 
the life of the individual and he, in a real sense, has become dependent 
upon it. 

The annual passenger automobile mileage in the country can only be 
stated as an estimate. Such an estimate involves three factors: average 
annual car mileage, average number of passengers per car, and the propor- 
tion of all passenger cars registered in any year that are actually in use. 
For the first of these, the National Automobile Chamber of Commerce 
uses 7,000 miles. Balancing rural and urban differences, the American 
Electric Railway Association assumes an average load of 2.2 passengers 
per automobile. By calculation to allow for scrappage and non-use the 
private passenger cars in operation in 1930 may be stated as 21,554,500. 
The total passenger miles for 1930, obtained as the product of the three 

18 Cf. the monograph, section IV. 

\ 177 1 


factors, is approximately 332,000,000,000. 19 No attempt is made here to 
obtain a comparable figure for earlier years. 

What this figure signifies is more clearly indicated when it is stated 
that the per capita passenger mileage in passenger automobiles in 1930 
was 2,697 miles. In the same year the per capita mileage on all steam 
railroads was 218.3, a decline of 227.8 from the peak of 446.1 in 1919. 
Comparison of these figures lends additional support to the conclusion 
that it is from the competition of the private automobile that the pas- 
senger business of the railroads has suffered most. While the comparison 
is admittedly unfair (since the automobile is used in numerous ways for 
which the railroad offered no corresponding service) there is here some 
ground for belief that the lost short haul passenger traffic of the rail 
carriers has been assumed by the private passenger automobile. Some 
may have been shifted to commercial buses, but if every passenger carried 
by bus in 1930 had been carried by the railroads instead, it would have 
increased the per capita passenger mileage figure of the latter by only 
57.5 miles, and brought this to but slightly more than three-fifths of the 
1919 figure. 20 

Although these figures indicate the mobility of the population, in 
themselves they give no clue to the characteristics of the travel that is 
involved. Data pertaining to highway travel are fragmentary, and are 
derived chiefly from separate highway surveys, the most important of 
which, as far as non-urban traffic is concerned, have been conducted by 
the Bureau of Public Roads in conjunction with state highway depart- 
ments. 21 The data of these studies, except for the recent western survey, 
are grouped, in general, according to the same plan. Four major criteria 
of classification are employed, each with two dichotomous categories: 
Registration, "local" or "foreign"; Type of Trip, "touring" or "non- 
touring"; Type of Usage, "business" or "non-business"; and Situs of 
Ownership, "farm" or "non-farm." 22 

The data indicate that while the average number of passengers per car 
varies from state to state, it is consistently higher in some categories 
than others. Foreign (out of state) cars carry more passengers than local, 

19 The method here employed is that of Hawley S. Simpson, Research Engineer, Ameri- 
can Street Railway Association. For a detailed explanation of the various estimates involved 
in this figure, see section V of the monograph. 

20 Cf. the monograph, section V. 

21 U. S. Bureau of Public Roads: Report of a Survey of Transportation on the State High- 
way System of Connecticut, 1926; Report of a Survey of Transportation on the State Highway 
System of Ohio, 1927; Report of a Survey of Transportation on the State Highways of New 
Hampshire, 1927; Report of a Survey of Transportation on the State Highways of Vermont, 
1927; Report of a Survey of Transportation on the State Highways of Pennsylvania, 1928; 
Report of a Survey of Traffic on the Federal-Aid Highway Systems of Eleven Western States, 
1932. These surveys must be interpreted with caution, since they are not all for the same 
year or periods, and each covers a specified highway system. 

22 For definitions of these categories see the monograph, Table 17. 

[ 178 ] 


touring cars more than non-touring cars, non-business cars more than 
business cars and non-farm cars more than farm cars. In general, those 
cars travelling farthest and probably departing most from routine, have 
the more passengers. Presumably cars on city streets would show fewer 
passengers in general than were found in these surveys on open highways. 

In three of the surveys (New Hampshire, Vermont, Ohio) data on the 
length of trip was obtained. The cars in which a higher ratio of passengers 
prevails, as indicated in the preceding paragraph, have consistently 
higher trip mileage. Considering the trip as the distance from point of 
departure to destination, trip mileages of foreign cars averaged from four 
to nine times that of local cars and the trip mileages of touring cars were 
from five and one-half to fifteen times those of non-touring cars. Business 
cars averaged consistently less than non-business cars in trip length. In 
the study of the eleven western states made in 1930 the daily mileage of 
passenger cars was recorded. In all of the states, the average travel of 
foreign cars exceeded that of local cars, although differences between them 
were not as great as the trip figures of cars in the surveys made in eastern 
states. Differences in the areas of the states, western as compared with 
eastern, presumably account for this fact. The western study also showed 
that city owned passenger cars tend to travel longer distances (as meas- 
ured by average daily mileage) than village owned cars, and these latter in 
turn exceed the daily average mileage of farm owned vehicles. 

The frequency of out of state cars on the highways leads naturally 
to the tendency to think of the automobile in terms of extended mileage. 
"Long" and "short" are relative terms and long trips of one generation 
may be short to another. The automobile has done much to revise con- 
ceptions of distance, but at the same time it has probably led to miscon- 
ceptions concerning range of mobility. In the five states covered by the 
surveys cited, from one-third to one-half of all automobiles were on trips 
of less than 20 miles, from one-half to two-thirds were on trips of less 
than 50 miles, and distances of 100 miles were not reached by from 
three-fifths to nine-tenths of the machines. In Vermont, 42 percent of 
cars bearing Vermont plates were travelling less than ten miles. Were 
city data included the average trip mileage would presumably be much 
reduced. 23 In the western states, where distances in general are greater, 
"travel of less than 100 miles a day clearly predominates." Considering 
the states as a group, about 38 percent of all local cars were traveling 
between 20 and 70 miles a day, and about 50 percent, less than 100 miles. 

Some Implications. There are important implications to all this, both 
practical and theoretical. Practically, the increased mobility made possible 
by widespread automobile ownership creates problems associated with 

23 Detailed analysis on these points, with statistical tabulations based on the surveys 
cited, is contained in the monograph, section V. 

[ 179 1 


chronic migration. The "gypsy family" has become familiar to every 
social welfare organization. Ease of movement induces a readiness to 
shift residence on various provocations. "Transient families" complicate 
the work of the school systems. While these problems do not concern the 
vast majority of the population, the numbers that are involved cannot be 
overlooked. Theoretically, automobile ownership raises the question of 
the influence of the concomitant mobility upon the standardization of 
social habits. With increasing contacts with individuals at distant points 
localisms may be lessened. It is clear from the foregoing data that longer 
trips are now made more frequently than ever before by a larger propor- 
tion of the population. But at the same time there is also a strong pre- 
sumption from the data that contacts within local areas have also 
multiplied and out of proportion to those at a distance. Herein lies the 
possibility of an intensification of localisms. The problem is how to 
appraise the effects of these opposing tendencies. 

Electric Railways. The preeminence of the steam railroads at the 
outset of the century had its counterpart in the electric lines, as far as 
local, suburban and short interurban transportation was concerned. By 
providing a type of service not afforded by the steam roads they facilitated 
the expansion of cities, met the needs of local necessity travel, and also 
afforded a cheap and convenient means of pleasure travel, a function that 
has all but disappeared. Like the railroads, they have undergone changes 
attributable to the rapid rise of the automobile. 

The diffusion of the automobile has not affected all types of electric 
lines alike. Changes occurring in necessity travel on electric railways are 
related to community size. In the largest cities, where distances are great 
and street traffic dense, elevated, subway and other rapid transit systems 
have developed and their patronage has increased. In large cities, too, 
where traffic makes the driving of private cars more difficult, street 
surface lines have tended to maintain their position. It is conspicuously 
in smaller communities that electric lines have lost patrons to the private 
automobile and will probably continue to do so. The effects have also been 
marked on interurban lines. 24 

Electric Railway Traffic. The maximum traffic for electric lines as a 
whole was attained in or about 1922, whether the measure be number of 
passengers, revenue trips per inhabitant, or revenue trips per urban 
inhabitant. By 1927 it was clear that a decline had set in and estimates of 
the American Electric Railway Association for subsequent years indicate 
its continuation. 25 In 1922, 15,331,000,000 passengers rode in electric 

24 It is difficult to establish these points directly, but a detailed analysis in section II 
of the monograph leaves little doubt concerning them. 

26 Cf. U. S. Bureau of the Census, Census of Electrical Industries: Electric Railways 
and Affiliated Bus Lines, 1927, and corresponding quinquennial reports for earlier years. 
Intercensus estimates furnished by American Electric Railway Association. 

[ 180 ] 


vehicles and about 40 millions more in buses operated by electric railway 
companies. The aggregate number of passengers per capita was 139.3. 
In 1927, 14,901,000,000 passengers travelled in electric cars and 991,000,- 
000 in affiliated buses; the aggregate passengers per capita had dropped 
to 133.2. For 1930, the Association estimates the respective numbers as 
13,197,000,000 and 1,308,000,000; the per capita figure had shrunk to 
117.8. Further declines were evident in 1931. 

It is clear that traffic has been lost by the electric railway companies 
and that in addition passengers who formerly rode in electric cars are now 
riding in buses. Since electric railway companies have been increasingly 
acquiring bus subsidiaries 26 it is unlikely that their traffic losses have 
appeared as gains by buses not affiliated with the industry and whose 
traffic is not included in the foregoing figures. On the other hand, increase 
in private automobile registrations, plus the fact that urban traffic surveys 
indicate increasing congestion by private automobiles at central points, 
make it a safe conclusion that private passenger motor vehicles have been 
the outstanding cause of electric line traffic losses. 

The figures of electric railway traffic losses clearly indicate a shift in 
social habits. In seeking an explanation, the element of personal control 
is once more apparent. With the private automobile there are no schedules, 
the car is at the door and the convenience is great. With ownership of 
an automobile comes a readiness to use it wherever it is possible and 

Integrative Tendencies. The attempts of street railway companies to 
meet changing conditions have resulted in extensive coordination of bus 
and electric vehicle services, and, in some cities, taxicab operations also. 
Within the industry is a clear recognition that the public seeks transporta- 
tion, and to the extent that it resorts to commercial operators, what 
vehicles are employed is secondary. The trend is toward coordination of 
the local transportation systems. It is possible that their traffic has nearly 
reached the point of stabilization; street congestion beyond a certain 
point even in small communities makes the operation of the private 
automobile increasingly undesirable and difficult. Already there is 
evidence of more rigorous restriction on the use and parking of private 
cars in urban areas. Within the disease that has afflicted the electric lines 
may be contained the germ of their recovery. 

Water Transportation. Waterways once served as main arteries of 
domestic communication, antedating the railroads, while sailing vessels 
mitigated national isolation. In recent years passenger transportation by 
water has been affected by one or another of four sets of conditions, with 
modifications that have differed accordingly. (1) Where forced to compete 
directly with railroads or automobiles for necessity traffic water carriers 

26 See above, pp. 174-175. 

[ 181 ] 


have rapidly lost ground. Thus new bridges or tunnels have eliminated 
many ferry services. (2) Where water transit has a natural monopoly, as 
from the mainland to an island, traffic has kept pace with the normal 
social and economic development of the populations concerned. Air 
transportation, in some situations of this type, is becoming a competitive 
threat. (3) Water vehicles may supplement the employment of other 
transportation agencies and reflect the latter's growth. Ferry traffic 
across Lake Michigan, for example, has increased with automobile travel. 
(4) Where water carriers can offer a pleasure inducement, either by itself 
or in conjunction with necessity travel, they may maintain themselves 
in the face of competition. 

Changes in water borne passenger traffic reflect variations in one or 
more of these type situations, singly or combined. Data concerning total 
traffic, however, cannot be analyzed with respect to these situations. 
Moreover, totals supplied by the War Department 27 do not segregate 
passengers by type of travel, with the result that a ferry passenger from 
New York to Jersey City cannot be discriminated from a transoceanic 
voyager. The total water borne passengers thus reported numbered 
286,199,000 in 1920, 546,573,000 in 1929 and 388,937,000 in 1930. The 
much larger volume of traffic on the Atlantic Coast doubled between 
these years, while Pacific Coast traffic showed little variation. Port 
traffic is far greater than river traffic, but the latter showed greater 
increase between the two years. However, it is obvious that changes in 
highway routes and ferry services, construction of bridges and vehicular 
tunnels, all producing diversions and rerouting of land vehicles, would 
affect the totals greatly; and the extreme irregularity of the figures for 
years intervening between 1920 and 1929 seems largely attributable to 
such factors. While the general picture is one of growth, the unevenness 
of the total series and the heterogeneity of its constituent parts, makes any 
confident consideration of trend virtually impossible. 28 

When the data of total water traffic are compared with foreign water 
borne traffic, thereby eliminating ferry services, Great Lakes, coastwise 
and other short haul trips, it is readily seen that the bulk of the traffic 
discussed in the preceding paragraph is in the short haul service. In 1929 
less than one-half of one percent of the traffic reported by the War 
Department was reflected in the compilations of the United States Ship- 
ping Board, which records all foreign traffic and non-contiguous and 
intercoastal domestic traffic. Shipping Board data may be said to reflect 

27 U. S. Department of War, "Commercial Statistics: Water-Borne Commerce of the 
United States for Calendar Year 1929," Ibid. 1930, in Annual Report of the Chief of Engi- 
neers, 1930, 1931. The 1931 decline in water borne traffic was reflected in all divisions and 
types, with one inconsequential exception interior rivers not tributary to the ocean or 
Gulf of Mexico. 

28 Cf. the monograph, Table 26, and passim. 

[ 182 ] 


the long haul traffic. 29 These data show an annual increase in the number 
of passengers to foreign countries between the fiscal years 1925 and 1930. 
They likewise show a consistent increase in intercoastal travel except in 

A survey of water borne passenger agencies suggests that the func- 
tions of the water carriers have become far more sharply delimited than 
have the functions of the land carriers. When natural monopoly disap- 
pears, the water carrier will normally lose traffic. Where water carriers 
can supplement new competitors, they may show increase in traffic, and 
where they can offer a "pleasure" inducement, they will presumably 
maintain their position. It may also be expected that the stimulation to 
travel for travel's sake, engendered by the automobile, will be reflected 
in some increases in travel of this type on the water. This is to be con- 
sidered in the section on touring and travel. 

Air Transportation. 30 Since the World War the airplane has become 
a recognized passenger carrier whose services must be considered in 
relation to other transportation agencies, especially the railroad. Civil 
aeronautics (which excludes military and naval operations) is of two 
types: (1) scheduled air transportation; (2) miscellaneous flying which 
covers a variety of services and does not involve fixed schedules and 
defined routes. While forms of the second developed somewhat earlier, 
the first is obviously of greater significance in the development of commu- 
nication. Comparable data concerning a variety of operations and services 
related to civil aeronautics have been compiled by the United States 
Department of Commerce for each year, 1926 to 1931. 31 

In 1926 scheduled air service was at its beginning. The eighteen air- 
way services in operation that year over 3,715 miles of passenger route 
had grown in 1931 to 126 services, covering 45,704 miles. The increase in 
route mileage was more than ten-fold and included foreign as well as 
domestic extensions. The daily average miles flown increased more than 
ten-fold, from less than 12,000 to 129,825. More significant than facilities 
is growth in utilization as shown by the number of passengers. Only 5,782 
in 1926, these numbered 417,505 in 1930 and 522,345 in 1931. 

It must be kept in mind that these figures are inconsiderable when 
compared with the total rail passengers in the same years. The rapidity 
of growth in air travel is significant for what it may forecast. In 1930 the 
average air passenger per scheduled air service, travelled 248.4 miles, in 

29 U. S. Shipping Board, Bureau of Research, Report B. R., No. 157 (annual) ; sum- 
marized in the monograph, Table 27. 

30 See also Chap. III. 

31 These data have been assembled by the Aeronautics Branch and are published in 
Air Commerce Bulletin, vol. 3, pp. 558-561, 1932. They form the basis of the discussion in 
this section, and of the summary compilations which are presented in Tables 31, 32 and 
33 of the monograph. The development of air mail service will be discussed in section II 
of this chapter. 

[ 183 1 


contrast to 75.9 miles per passenger per road for non-commutation riders 
on steam railroads. It has already been shown that railroad traffic losses 
have been proportionately more heavy in short hauls, where competition 
with motor vehicles has been most severe. If air travel continues to grow, 
as seems likely, it will increasingly become competitive with the railroads 
for the long haul business. 

Passengers carried in miscellaneous flying in 1930 still greatly exceeded 
the number carried on scheduled routes although the increase from the 
previous year was slight. Moreover, the excess would appear less, or dis- 
appear, if passenger miles in both services could be compared. Miscella- 
neous flying has attracted many passengers because of the novelty, and 
short flights predominate. As established routes become more general the 
novelty appeal will be lessened or will be satisfied on scheduled trips. 

Two major factors influence public attitudes toward travel by air: 
cost and safety. The average passenger fare per air line mile decreased 
from $0.12 a mile in 1926 to $0.083 in 1930 and $0.0674 in 1931. While 
costs have dropped, rail or bus travel is still cheaper for the mass of the 
population, although speed may be a factor in making air travel more 
economical for some. 

The safety factor is best measured in terms of passenger-miles flown 
per fatal accident. For scheduled transport planes in 1930 (the first year 
for which data are available) the figure was 4,322,802; in 1931 it was 
4,770,876. No comparable figure for miscellaneous flights exists. If the 
gauge of safety used is "miles flown per fatal accident" (which does not 
distinguish passengers and operators) Department of Commerce data 
indicate a steady improvement in safety on scheduled air lines but little 
if any improvement in miscellaneous flying. In 1930, the last year for 
which figures are available, one railroad passenger was killed for every 
311,647,390 passenger-miles travelled, which, when compared with the 
scheduled flight figure for 1930, indicates that the risk of fatal accident 
that year was about 72 times greater on the air routes than on the rail- 
roads. In view of the more favorable 1931 air fatality figures, the dis- 
parity has presumably been lessened. Data for a similar comparison 
between air passenger safety and motor vehicle passenger safety are 
unavailable, but would probably appear less unfavorable to the air carriers. 

During the past five years there has been continuous expansion and 
development of the airways network. The number of landing fields has 
grown; many intermediate landing fields for emergency use have been 
established; the lighting of routes has been extended widely; and various 
safety aids, such as radio communication stations, weather reporting 
stations, etc. have been developed. The expansion of aviation is further 
indicated by the steady increase in the number of states with regulatory 
aeronautical legislation. 

f 184 1 


The growth of commercial aviation brings administrative and legisla- 
tive problems, 32 and as routes become international introduces new health 
problems. The speed of air vehicles so reduces the time of journeys that 
the period of incubation for certain diseases, exceeded by the elapsed time 
of travel by land or water, is not exceeded by the time of an air journey. 
Forced landings, also, might make difficult the control of diseases with 
existing organization for health protection. 33 

The Integration of Transportation Agencies. The preceding pages 
sketch in broad outline the changes that have been occurring to specific 
transportation agencies within the present century. Although discussed 
separately the various agencies in reality are closely interwoven, and 
factors that influence one agency ramify to them all. The appearance of 
each new agency modifies older ones. Relationships develop that may be 
said to constitute a moving equilibrium. 

The coming of the automobile dominates the three decades since 1900. 
The steam railways and the electric lines especially have felt the impact 
of its influences. With a widespread car ownership the individual naturally 
turns to his own vehicle when the need for travel arises. Furthermore, in 
his pleasure travel involving longer trips as at vacation times, he resorts 
to his own car. With it comes a freedom that was denied him when there 
was dependence upon commercial carriers operating on fixed schedules. 
A widespread and significant shift in social habits is correlated with the 
growth in numbers of motor cars. The full effect of the newest agency, the 
airplane, is not yet apparent. If and when private ownership of air 
vehicles develops, it is certain that adjustments in human habits will be 
required that are as far reaching as those necessitated by the automobile. 

These adjustments in the past have been two-fold: (1) commercial 
organizations controlling one or another of the agencies compete with 
each other as rail lines with bus companies; (2) the commercial carriers 
together confront the private individual operating his own vehicle. Such 
have been the conflicts in the past and presumably they will take these 
forms in the future. If a quarter century of change can be simply charac- 
terized on the basis of the data here presented, it would be by saying that 
the passing years have given the private individual greater control over 
his freedom of movement and lessened his dependence upon commercial 

It does not follow that commercial transportation agencies have lost 
their functions as passenger carriers. Each possesses unique advantages; 
but readjustment to changing conditions has been slow in the case of the 
older systems. Integration of services is a clear requirement of survival 
or growth, and tendencies in this direction, already apparent, may be 

32 See Chap. XXVIII. 

33 This was discussed at the annual conference of the British Medical Association in 
1931. C/. London Telegraph. July 24, 1931. 

[ 185 ] 


expected to continue. Railroads are joining their services with air trans- 
port; electric lines are developing bus subsidiaries or auxiliary services; 
motor vehicles take the place of abandoned rail lines; trolley companies 
operate taxicabs; railways provide passenger automobiles at their 
terminals. In some instances such coordination involves merging of 
functions under one corporate control ; in others separate corporate groups 
agree upon coordination. These points are of no concern to the individual 
citizen except as questions of rate and service intrude, for his need is 
transportation service, by rail, water, bus or air, as occasion may demand. 
It is not unlikely that two types of systems will eventually emerge : local 
transportation systems and long distance transportation systems. The 
functions may overlap in part but the integration of the various agencies 
within each will probably exceed that of today. Whether this tendency 
toward integration and coordination should be consciously furthered, and 
how, if at all, it should be controlled are problems again suggested. 

Touring and Travel. The American people have become remarkably 
mobile. The automobile has fostered a widespread travel psychology. 
Spontaneity and universality distinguish contemporary from earlier 
travel. The popular expression "hop in" has more than surface meaning; 
it typifies a state of mind. Travel for necessity and travel for the sake of 
travel (pleasure travel) alike are involved in the enhanced mobility. The 
trip of a few hours' duration (the drive) and the longer pleasure trip 
(touring) have become accepted parts of modern life. It is the general 
extension of the touring habit that is particularly impressive. 34 

Data on touring are fragmentary but the extent to which it has grown 
is reflected by numerous indexes. Immigration authorities record automo- 
biles entering Canada. In 1919, 59,105 permits for stays of 2 to 30 days 
were issued; in 1930 the number was 1,297,030, and each intervening year 
showed gain. One-day permits increased consistently from 1,515,035 in 
1925 to 4,110,000 in 1930 35 for reasons which will be variously interpreted. 
The Dominion Bureau of Statistics estimates the average number of 
passengers per car as slightly over three. There has also been a consistent 
increase in numbers of cars classified "for touring purposes" entering the 
United States from Canada. There were 100,810 in 1922, and 746,924 in 
1930. The number of tourists crossing the border in either direction by 
rail or steamer, as estimated by the Bureau, in recent years remains 
relatively unchanged. 

Checks on traffic at bridges and at state boundaries have also indicated 
rapid increase in touring by automobile. In recording annually all visitors 
to Yellowstone National Park, the National Park Service distinguishes 

34 See also Chap. XVIII. 

36 Canada, Department of Trade and Commerce, Dominion Bureau of Statistics. 
"The Tourist Trade in Canada," Annual (mimeographed). See also the monograph, 
Table 20. 

F 186 1 


rail and motor arrivals and the states in which the traffic originated. 
From 1922 until 1930 there was an annual increase in the number of 
visitors. In the earlier year 33.7 percent entered by rail; in 1930, only 11.4 
percent. When the visitors are classified by state of origin, the earlier 
conclusion is substantiated that rails have suffered most in short haul 
traffic. For while the ratio of automobile arrivals has increased sub- 
stantially for every geographic division, the increase has been relatively 
more rapid from divisions in closer proximity to the park. Conversely, rail 
traffic to the park has tended to maintain itself in direct proportion to the 
distance of travel. 36 

A survey of highway traffic in eleven western states in 1930 also 
showed extensive use of the highways of given states by passenger vehicles 
from other states. The check on the home registration of these foreign 
cars gives added evidence of a widespread touring habit. In Arizona, to 
illustrate, 19.9 percent of all foreign cars observed on the highways during 
the survey came from states east of the Mississippi, and 16.4 percent were 
from the northeastern states. In other states, the percentage of all foreign 
cars coming from east of the Mississippi also was high: California, 25.2 
percent; Colorado, 20.4 percent; Idaho, 9.3 percent; Nebraska, 20.1 
percent; Nevada, 10.5 per cent; New Mexico, 15.0; Oregon, 5.1 percent; 
Utah, 13.8 percent; Washington, 6.9 percent; and Wyoming, 20.0 
percent. 37 

New Travel Institutions. The increase in automobile travel has 
stimulated communities to attempt the attraction of visitors through 
advertising campaigns. The tourist "business'* has swelled. This is 
reflected in the growth of the tourist camp and lodging. These developed 
largely without plan and the types have shifted with changing needs. To 
attract tourists, free camping grounds seem first to have been offered, 
often by municipalities. Minor conveniences were sometimes included. 
If privately operated, profits came through the sale of incidental services 
or goods. Pay camping grounds with more elaborate facilities developed 
naturally and the municipal type of camping ground began to lose 
popularity. Next came cabin and cottage camps which sprang up with 
surprising rapidity. These vary in comfort, accommodations and price, 
and, in some cases, purport to offer the equivalent of first class hotel 
facilities. 38 The popularity of the roadside camp is indicative of its 
adaptation to the new type of travel. The traveller's costs are low, traffic 
congestion is avoided, frequently there are attractive rural settings and 
above all the patron feels none of the embarrassment that he thinks might 

36 The analysis leading to these conclusions is presented in detail in the monograph, 
section VI. 

37 U. S. Bureau of Public Roads, Report of a Survey of Traffic on the Federal- Aid Highway 
Systems of Eleven Western States, 1932, p. 40. 

38 Cf. American Automobile Association, Recreational Directory, Washington, 1930. 

[ 187 ] 


come with entrance into an urban hotel in the clothes of the road. The 
camps are definitely a part of the "tourist psychology." 

The "tourist home" or lodging, like the camp, has become popular; 
their number is undetermined. So ingrained in popular habits has the 
use of the automobile become that the appearance of the camp, the 
private tourist lodging and the refreshment stand lining the roadsides of 
the nation evinces but little comment. However, the growth of these new 
institutions has led to agitation in some states for their rigid inspection 
and control partly on health grounds but also for moral reasons. 

In the development of "tourist accommodations" is an example of the 
ramifying influences of the motor vehicle, for through them the automobile 
has touched the hotel industry, a business which it might have been 
expected to benefit. Although it is by no means certain that the hotel has 
suffered declines in patronage because of these new institutions, there is 
considerable feeling within the hotel industry that it has. Between 1920 
and 1929 the number of hotels in the country increased; the number of 
rooms increased still more rapidly. The ratio of guests to total population 
sagged, however, and was restored to the 1920 level only in 1929. 39 This 
comparison is not altogether fair since it is probable that potential hotel 
patronage does not increase with the same rapidity as the population at 
large. However, even gross patronage has not shown a clear upward trend 
and declines between 1929 and 1932 have probably been sharp. 

Hotel men assert that extensive modifications of the hotel have 
resulted from the increase in travel by women which has been induced by 
the automobile. Private bath facilities have become general, menus have 
been modified and room furnishings transformed. More adequate hotel 
facilities have been extended into smaller communities where patrons 
arrive increasingly by motor vehicle. 40 

Mass Travel: Conventions. Travel thus far considered has been 
essentially individual. It is sometimes a mass phenomenon as on a railroad 
excursion; or many may travel independently to an agreed destination. 
The convention is typical of the latter and is peculiarly associated with 
life in the United States. It has both social and business functions. 
Tabulations from World Convention Dates show that the total numbers of 
conventions in this country in 1920, 1925 and 1930 were, respectively, 
4,192, 6,291 and 8,501. The geographical distribution of conventions in 
1930 was uneven; New York and Ohio led the states, with Nevada, 
Delaware and New Mexico last. The last decade (1920-1930) has seen 
the greatest increase in regional and interstate conventions (as contrasted 
with international, national, state and local) and as a factor influencing 

39 "Final Report of the Engineering-Economic Foundation's Survey of Over-building," 
Hotel Management, Section One, vol. 16, pp. 195-200, 1929. Cf. U. S. Bureau of the Census, 
Census of Hotels, 1930. Relevant data are summarized in the monograph, Table 23. 

40 The hotel is discussed in detail in the monograph, section VI. 

[ 188 ] 


integration and social organization this may be of considerable 
significance. In general, larger cities seem to be gaining favor as 
convention centers, which may reflect the need for adequate hotel 
facilities and the extent to which the convention has assumed social 
importance. 41 

The significance of the convention lies in its possibilities for an inter- 
change of ideas among those of similar interests. To the extent that it 
draws people from distant points it is a factor contributing to cultural 
levelling; to the extent that it draws narrow audiences it may intensify 
regionalisms, localisms and class or professional characteristics. 

Overseas Travel. Pleasure travel by rail and water, whether at home 
or abroad, is not a new phenomenon. The habit of domestic touring by 
automobile, however, seems partly responsible for extending the interest 
in foreign journeys especially among those to whom travel of any kind 
was formerly a wide departure from routine. It is not possible to segregate 
pleasure and business motives in overseas passenger traffic but if account 
is taken only of departures of citizens from the country there is a presump- 
tion that pleasure travel is chiefly involved. 

Foreign travel was sharply curtailed by the war. The post-war 
recovery is striking particularly because of the type of traveller it involves. 
The rise of "tourist" and "tourist third" classes on ocean vessels has 
made it possible for large numbers of Americans of the middle and lower 
middle economic groups to visit other continents, notably Europe. In 
1930, 32.8 percent of all citizens leaving north Atlantic ports were booked 
in these new classes; 10.9 percent travelled second class; cabin passengers 
constituted 33.4 percent; and the remainder (22.9 percent) occupied first 
class accommodations. 42 Figures for early years are not available but it 
is certain that there has been decided loss in popularity of second class, 
which has consequently been abandoned for the newer type of quarters 
on many transatlantic lines. 

Departures of American citizens for overseas destinations are mainly 
from Atlantic ports: In 1920 these numbered 137,601 of a total of 167,602 
departures. Pacific port departures, next most numerous, were only 
14,201. In 1930 Atlantic departures had increased almost consistently to 
404,390 and Pacific port departures had risen to 22,829. Both showed 
declines in 1931, the former to 392,909 and the latter to 20,878. The total 
overseas departures of citizens in 1930 numbered 445,485 43 and 429,219 
in 1931. The itineraries of passengers are not known, but in 1930 
immediate destinations, as recorded by the Bureau of Immigration, 

41 Detailed statistical analysis of the distribution of conventions is given in the 
monograph, section VI. 

42 Supplied from unpublished data by U. S. Bureau of Immigration. 

43 Compiled from U. S. Bureau of Immigration, Annual Report of the Commissioner 
General of Immigration, 1930. 

[ 189 ] 


showed 58.8 percent as European and Mediterranean. Next came the 
West Indies (28.0 percent). 

This European drift of American travellers is probably not without 
influence upon American attitudes and ideas. The effects, however, must 
be felt unevenly in the country, since passport data, supplied by the 
Department of State, show wide variation among the geographic divisions 
in the number of passports issued. In 1929, one passport was issued for 
every 248 persons in the middle Atlantic states, while in the east south 
central states there was one for every 5,067 persons. For continental 
United States in 1929 one passport was issued for every 623 people. In 
general, the relative number of passports secured in any section is in- 
versely proportionate to the distance from the Atlantic and Pacific 
seaboards with the former somewhat more highly weighted. 44 

The Influence of Travel. The influence upon the population of in- 
creased mobility, as it involves either domestic or foreign travel, is 
problematical. The common assumption is that multiplication of con- 
tacts at a distance has a "broadening" effect. Yet it is open to question 
whether, mile for mile, or hour for hour, automobile touring or other 
domestic travel results in exchanges of attitudes and ideas with other 
persons equivalent in importance to exchanges effected in the shorter 
trips within a more narrowly circumscribed local community. Data on 
highway utilization lead to the tentative conclusion that local contacts 
have increased more rapidly than those at a distance. This may result in 
an intensification of localisms outweighing the modifications of attitude 
resulting from less frequent contacts at distant points. The facts thus far 
introduced do not permit an answer, although they raise a problem 
involving the location of balance between the contacts that the agencies 
of communication bring about. 

Nor is it possible to evaluate confidently the effects upon the traveller, 
or upon those whom he meets, of overseas travel. It is possible that 
Americans abroad engender impressions among Europeans quite different 
from those engendered among Americans by European travellers in this 
country. Americans at home may encounter European immigrants and 
upper class travellers but they do not usually encounter the European 
middle class. American travellers abroad are more and more drawn from 
the middle class which may consequently serve increasingly as the basis 
of popular European opinions of Americans. The problem is thus far 
more subtle than is sometimes assumed. 

One certainty remains. The tempo of life has accelerated in conse- 
quence of the application of machinery to man's tasks. The newer agen- 
cies of communication have transformed popular habits and conceptions 
of speed and distance. With the increase in speed at which man may 
44 Detailed analysis is included in the monograph, section VII. 


travel has come the sense of lessened distance. The continent has been 
spanned between dawn and dusk, and by other agencies personal contacts 
between the Atlantic and Pacific seaboards are established within inter- 
vals measured in minutes. 

It is to some of these other agencies for furthering contact, but not 
involving presence face to face, that attention is now turned. 


Section I traced the development and integration of the vast trans- 
portation network whereby communities are joined, the physical mobility 
of the population is enhanced and social contacts are multiplied. In section 
II mediating agencies for the interchange of messages from person to 
person or from point to point will be considered. Their multiplication 
enables individuals to maintain contacts within constantly widening 
areas. Of primary importance are the postal service, the telegraph, cable 
and wireless and the telephone. 

The Postal Service. For over a century the postal service has been 
expanding its functions. Both its structure and its utilization have grown 
enormously, as indicated roughly by an increase in per capita gross 
revenue from $0.17 in 1846 to $5.29 in 1931. 45 

Growth of the Postal Structure. Before the development of city carrier 
service and the establishment of rural free delivery, the number of post 
offices in the country constituted the best measure of postal "coverage.'* 
From 1789 until 1901, when the maximum of 76,945 was reached, there 
was an almost regular annual increase in their number. Between 1901 
and 1930 Presidential offices 46 continued to increase, multiplying nearly 
fourfold. The total of Presidential offices on July 1, 1931, was 15,495, 
which is less than in 1930. The total number of offices of all classes, how- 
ever, declined regularly; there were 49,063 in the latter year. This decrease 
involves no curtailment of service but reflects the discontinuance of 
many Fourth Class offices whose functions have been assumed by rural 

46 U. S. Post Office Department, Annual Report of the Postmaster General, for fiscal 
year ended June 30, 1930, Table 58, pp. 150-151. All data in the present section are for 
fiscal years ending June 30. For 1931 the per capita gross revenue fell to $5.29, the lowest 
figure since 1925. Cf., Annual Report of the Postmaster General, op. cit., for 1931, Table 63, 
p. 153. 

48 Post offices are distinguished by class according to annual gross revenues, and reas- 
signments are made as of July 1, each year. Postmasters of all offices with gross revenues 
exceeding $1,500 (Classes I, II and III) are appointed by the President with the consent 
of the Senate. Fourth Class postmasters are appointed by the Postmaster General. The 
data cited above are from compilations made with the assistance of A. W. Watts, Cost 
Ascertainment Superintendent, United States Post Office Department. Discrepancies found 
in published reports have been adjusted on the basis of original data and preponderance 
of evidence. For detailed tabulation of Post Offices, 1900-1930 inclusive, by classes, see 
the monograph, Table 34. 

[ 191 ] 


carriers. Their elimination indicates the degree to which postal services 
have actually been brought to the doors of a continuously larger portion 
of the population. 

Expansion of postal facilities found early expression in the inaugura- 
tion of city delivery service (1863) and this was an important step in 
expediting the transmission of the written message. As the service grew, 
an increasingly smaller proportion of the population needed to go to the 
post office for the receipt of mail; the post office came to the citizen. In 
1865 there was delivery service in 45 cities; in 1900, in 796; in 1920, in 
2,086; and in 1931, in 3,098. 47 This growth is clearly much faster than 
urbanization in the United States. 

Rural free delivery (1896) represents another aspect of the progressive 
permeation of the homes of the nation by the postal structure. It was, 
moreover, a wedge that contributed to the breakdown of rural isolation, 
still later furthered by highway improvements, motor vehicles, telephones 
and radio. 48 In 1931, 6,890,687 families had rural carrier service. 

The maximum number of rural routes was reached in 1926 (45,318) 
but neither the total number of routes nor the number of carriers is a 
desirable index of the service because of the recent tendency to combine 
and lengthen routes, fostered by the use of motor vehicles. Total mileage, 
which increased regularly from 29,000 miles in 1900 to 1,354,759 in 1931, 
serves better to show the growth. The average length of route has grown 
slowly from 26.51 miles in 1920 to 31.94 in 1931, which is not as much as 
might be anticipated in an age of automobiles. 49 

Utilization of Postal Facilities. So varied are the functions and so 
numerous the types of material handled, that a complete description of 
the utilization of postal facilities would be difficult and laborious. Postal 
matter in any of the four established classes involves mediated contact, 
but attention will be limited here to the more personal transmissions 
represented by first class mail matter. This includes letters, sealed parcels, 
governmental postal cards and private mailing (post) cards. 50 Regularly 
since 1926, and earlier in 1923 and 1908, the Post Office Department has 
conducted systematic sample checks on the mail matter handled, whereby 
it is able to estimate with considerable accuracy the annual volume and 
the detailed character of the postal business. Because data for a suffi- 

47 Details of the growth are shown in the monograph, Table 35. 

48 Testimony on this point is contained in letters written to the Postmaster General, 
published in U. S. Post Office Department, Annual Report of the Postmaster General, 1897. 

49 Data pertaining to rural free and city delivery service from "Postal Statistics of 
the United States from 1789 to 1930, by Fiscal Years," Post Office Department, Third 
Assistant Postmaster General, 1931 (printed tabular sheet) ; and Annual Report of the 
Postmaster General, op. tit. Cf. the monograph, section X. 

60 Some materials, such as franked matter, are handled as first class mail, but since 
they do not produce revenue they are not included in the totals which follow, except as 

[ 192 1 


ciently long period of time are wanting, it is not possible to speak confi- 
dently of trends. 51 

In general, the data reveal increasing frequency of contacts between 
individuals. Both total and per capita volume of first class mail showed 
substantial increases between 1908 and 1930. In the former year 7,103,- 
000,000 pieces were handled, or 80.5 per capita; in the latter, 16,901,000,- 
000 pieces, or 137.9 per capita. In 1931 the number of pieces handled 
declined to 15,912,000,000 or 128.7 per capita. This undoubtedly reflects 
an increase in use of the mails for business purposes. The slight decline 
in 1930 from 1929 volume and the much sharper decline in 1931 indicate, 
presumably, the sensitivity of the postal business to economic conditions. 

The average individual in 1930 received 41.1 local letters and 83. d 
non-local letters and sealed packages. 52 In 1923 he received but 26.7 local 
letters. An increasing frequency of local contacts by mail is clear. It is 
impossible to show the changes in number of non-local letters and sealed 
packages in the same period, but from 1927 onward their number per 
capita has remained practically constant. When all of the available data 
are examined together in detail there is reason to conclude that the growth 
of local mail has been proportionately somewhat greater than the growth 
of non-local. 53 Further, analysis shows that in general between 1907 and 
1923 the smaller American communities, irrespective of growth in popula- 
tion (holding size constant), increased their ratio of local first class mail 
within the total, by weight, at a relatively more rapid rate than did the 
larger communities. One explanation of this result may be found in the 
expansion of rural deliveries, which may have augmented disproportion- 
ately the volume of local mail in the smaller communities. These data, 
however, should be considered in conjunction with the earlier hypothesis 
that automobile ownership, while extending contacts, has simultaneously 

61 In the following discussion data for 1908 from U. S. Post Office Department, Cost 
of Transporting and Handling the Several Classes of Mail Matter and of Conducting the 
Registry, Money Order, and Special Delivery Services, 1910. Data for 1923 from Cost of 
Handling Mail Matter, Sen. Doc. 162, 68th Cong., 2d Sess., and U. S. Post Office Depart- 
ment, Appendix to Report on the Cost of Handling the Several Classes of Mail Matter and of 
Conducting the Special Services for the Fiscal Year 1923 (photolithograph), 1924. Data for 
1926-1931, inclusive, from U. S. Post Office Department: Cost Ascertainment Report (annual) 
and Appendix to Cost Ascertainment Report (photolithograph annual). For fuller treat- 
ment, and tabular material, see the monograph, section X. 

62 In the Cost Ascertainment Report, op. cit. f the number of sealed packages is combined 
with "non-local letters." In 1931 the number of local letters per capita dropped to 31.5, 
whereas non-local letters and sealed packages per capita numbered 84.2. The general 
decline in 1931 in the volume of postal business as measured by number of pieces of first 
class mail handled reflects the general economic conditions. The analysis of the decline 
in terms of local and non-local first class mail makes clear that local mail is more sensitive 
than non-local. While data are not available to establish the point, it is probable that the 
drop in local first class mail is indicative of a decreasing use of local mail for business 
purposes, such as the sending of bills, etc. 

63 For detailed analysis see the monograph, section X. It is possible to obtain 
a comparison between local and non-local mail for the isolated year 1907. 

[ 193 ] 


increased, at a more rapid rate, the frequency of contacts within the local 
area. Both the automobile and the mail, while exerting a "broadening" 
influence, may also serve to fortify local characteristics and local patterns 
of attitude or opinion which differ from those of other communities. 

Figures of average haul indicate a moderate extension of the range of 
non-local postal contacts. The average distance travelled per piece (non- 
local domestic) increased from 507 miles in 1908 to 534 miles in 1927. 
The subsequent irregular decrease to 525 miles in 1930 and 520 in 1931 
may be attributed to the "suburban trend" which makes for a larger 
number of non-local short hauls. Interesting differences in average haul 
are found when groups of cities and classes of offices are compared. These 
cannot be entirely explained on geographical grounds. They may reflect 
differences in breadth of cultural boundaries and may thus serve as 
partial indexes of insularity. 64 

While postal facilities establish contacts between rural and non-rural 
areas, they are employed less by the rural than the general population. 
In 1930 of all first class domestic mail, only 9.2 percent, it is estimated, 
was delivered by rural carriers. 55 For every piece of first class mail he 
sends, the farmer now receives three pieces, in contrast to 1.7 pieces in 
1908. This reflects the increase in business mail directed to him for which 
he offers no originating counterpart. Congressional material (franked) 
has a relative volume in mail received on rural routes about double that 
in the mail of the general population. 56 

Expediting the Mail. No single figure summarizes the acceleration 
of the mails since 1900, although the interval between posting and delivery 
has been reduced. Postal tubes, mechanical cancelling devices, sorting of 
larger proportions in transit, increased frequency of collection and 
delivery and the use of motor vehicles have tended to expedite the mail 
service. Special delivery transactions have multiplied nearly twenty-fold 
in the period and typify a public demand for speed. 

The inauguration of air mail service (1918) adds evidence of the 
attempt to accelerate transmission. On long hauls this has greatly reduced 
rail time. The development of air mail is closely correlated with the 
improvements in flying facilities, including lighting of routes, discussed 
in a previous section. Although dependability does not yet equal railway 
postal service there has been a general increase in volume of air mail, 
somewhat irregular because of changes in rates. When the five-cent rate 
was established in 1929 the volume tripled, and in 1931 the number of 
pieces of domestic origin was 91,893,934, of which 87,777,241 were for 
domestic destinations. Domestic air mail routes grew from 4,713 miles in 

64 For fuller discussion, with illustrative data, see the monograph, section X. 
66 From estimate included in Annual Report of the Postmaster General, op. cit., 1930, 
Table 32, pp. 124-127. 

66 Cf. the monograph, section X. 

[ 194 1 


1927 to 23,488 in 1931, and there have also been rapid extensions into 
foreign countries. 57 

Two conspicuous trends stand out from a survey of postal data: 

1. There has been a constant increase in accessibility to convenient 
mail facilities for a continuously increasing proportion of the population. 

2. There has been a gain in the regularity, speed and frequency with 
which mail matter moves through the postal machinery from writer to 
person addressed. 

Telegraph, Cable and Wireless Services. At the outset of the 
century the postal and telegraph systems were the established agencies 
in point to point communication. In 1902 there were 237,990 miles of 
telegraph pole lines, which in 1927 had increased to only 256,809 miles, 
although the single miles of wire had grown more rapidly. The capacity 
of the wires had multiplied many times following the invention of 
mechanical devices for sending and receiving dots and dashes at high 
speed, of printing machines, and the development of multiplex systems so 
that a single wire could carry several messages simultaneously. Speed of 
transmission was approximately trebled. Reliability of service has been 
enhanced by the extension of land cables. Today interruptions of services 
are rare, regardless of weather conditions. 

A corresponding growth in extent, reliability and speed of cable 
service is found. The first north Atlantic cable was laid in 1868. By 1900 
there were 13, and by 1931, 21. The south Atlantic network had grown, 
drawing South America telegraphically closer to this country. The Pacific 
was first spanned in 1902, completing a cable circle around the world. 
Technical improvements have increased the carrying capacity of all of 
these lines. Since 1902 the United States has never been without cable 
contacts with the other continents; clearly the cable has been important 
in establishing national interdependency. 68 

Utilization of Telegraph and Cable. Telegraph and cable statistics 
employ the "message " as the unit of utilization. Data from the quinquen- 

67 For a detailed analysis of the increase in air mail services, see the monograph, 
Table 38. Air mail data supplied by office of Second Assistant Postmaster General, Division 
of Air Mail Service. The number of pieces of air mail, foreign and domestic, was first 
incorporated into the Cost Ascertainment Report in 1931. Prior to that date estimates of 
the number of pieces of air mail carried were obtained by multiplying the total poundage 
reported by various mail carrying lines by 40 (the estimated number of letters per pound). 
It was clear that this resulted in an excessive figure, because the total poundage was 
reported by individual lines, and thus included duplications, since a single piece might 
figure in the totals of several lines. Using the earlier method the total pieces carried in 1931 
would be about 343,000,000 which far exceeds the 91,893,934 recorded in the Cost Ascer- 
tainment Report. Cf. United States Post Office Department, Cost Ascertainment Report, 
1931, pp. 8, 12. 

68 Help in the preparation of this section was given by John F. Skirrow, Vice President 
and Consulting Engineer of the Postal Telegraph-Cable Co. See also the monograph, 
section XI. 

f 195 1 


nial Census of Electrical Industries indicate that utilization of the 
telegraphic network has not kept pace with increase in facilities. Land 
messages in 1902 numbered 90,835,000, or 1.14 per capita; in 1927, the 
most recent census year, 215,595,000, or 1.81 per capita. Ocean cable 
messages increased from 820,000 in 1902 to 13,987,000 in 1927, a per 
capita increase from 0.01 to 0.12. Nor has the utilization of the land wire 
system increased as rapidly as that of the post office. In 1907 there were 
71.9 pieces of first class mail for every land wire message and in 1927, 
76.3 pieces. There is, however, reason to believe that the average length 
of telegraph messages has increased. 

The telegraph has both commercial and personal uses and its utiliza- 
tion is probably more stable in connection with the former. The relative 
infrequency of the telegram, as compared with the receipt of a letter, or 
as will be shown later a telephone conversation, accounts for the 
importance attached to it. A crisis psychology has been involved in its use 
and its receipt. As telegraphic communication is popularized through 
stimulation of social and greeting messages and through reduced rate 
services, such as night letters, the attitudes may change, although an 
element of urgency and emphasis will presumably still be inherent. 59 

The relatively rapid growth of cable messages implies an extension of 
international contacts. As the cable facilities are used for dissemination 
of news, they become important agencies in the development of public 
opinion, and its rapid crystallization. 

Wireless Communication. Since the first decade of the century wire- 
less communication has expanded in importance, as measured by utiliza- 
tion. Its flexibility facilitates communication where it would otherwise be 
difficult or impossible. It has strikingly demonstrated its value in com- 
munication at sea. It has annihilated the isolation of the transoceanic 
voyage, and the modern liner has its daily newspaper and its broker's 
office; social and business life may continue much as on shore. Under 
conditions where it has no competition, the wireless has produced its pro- 
foundest effects; where it competes with wire systems of communication, 
like the submarine cable, the chief effect claimed is a reduction in rates. 

Growth in wireless messages transmitted by commercial companies of 
the United States follows: 1907, 154,617; 1912, 285,091; 1917, 420,000; 
1922, 2,365,109; 1927, 3,777,538. 60 Clearly the new agency is rapidly 
establishing itself and the eventual integration of its services with existing 

69 Data pertaining to utilization of telegraph, cable and wire agencies from U. S. Bureau 
of the Census, Census of Electrical Industries: Telegraphs, quinquennially, 1902-1927, 
inclusive. For detailed analysis and limitations of the data, see the monograph, section XI, 
especially Table 39. 

60 Census of Electrical Industries: Telegraphs, op. cit., 1927, pp. 24-26. The figure for 
1917 is an estimate, made necessary because of government operation of the wireless 
systems during part of that year, for which period no record of commercial messages trans- 
mitted was kept. 

F 196 1 


land and oceanic cable facilities may be expected. The significance of 
wireless in point to point communication has been somewhat over- 
shadowed in the public mind by the phenomenal rise of radio broadcasting. 
The entire range of radio frequencies from 10 to 60,000 kilocycles has been 
divided into "bands" of which only a relatively small number are devoted 
to broadcasting. Above and below the broadcasting bands are those 
utilized for non-broadcasting services. These services have multiplied 
strikingly and forecast tremendous possibilities for future communication. 

Some hint of the extent of wireless is found in the number of stations, 
as compiled for fiscal years by the Radio Division of the Department of 
Commerce. 61 Commercial transoceanic stations about doubled between 
1928 (85) and 1930 (165), incidentally establishing direct communication 
between the United States and a number of countries where it was 
formerly wanting or dependent upon cables controlled in other countries. 
Potentially, wireless has brought a greater freedom of communication 
between the peoples of the world than ever before, and international con- 
tact accordingly assumes new forms. 

Commercial ship to shore stations have also multiplied with results 
already mentioned. Stations employed in the navigation of commercial 
airplanes numbered 215 on June 30, 1930; there were only 8 such stations 
in 1928. Wireless and aviation are obviously associated. The number of 
amateur stations in the country has grown irregularly from 1,228 in 1913 
to 18,994 in 1930 (fiscal years). Among amateurs informal telegraphic 
conversations all over the world are of daily occurrence. 

Miscellaneous Telegraphing Services. In addition to commercial 
transmission of messages, telegraph facilities have been adapted to various 
specialized needs. The telegraph has long been important in railroad 
dispatching, and the radio is now used to establish contacts with trains en 
route; ticker services are indispensable to the world of finance; prospectors 
and explorers utilize portable wireless sets; fire and police departments 
employ telegraphic signal systems and are now using wireless to maintain 
contact between mobile units and headquarters and to broadcast alarms; 
fire and burglar alarms employ wire circuits, and telegraphically operated 
clocks are widely used. These are only a few of many additional uses of 
telegraph and wireless. 

The Telephone. With the rapid expansion of economic activity in the 
present century, a corresponding expansion in utilization of telegraph 
facilities would normally have been expected. Yet it was shown in the 
preceding section that between 1902 and 1927 the per capita use of the 
telegraph increased by only 60 percent, which appears to be a relatively 

61 Included in the monograph, Table 40. See also section XI for a more extended 
discussion of the allocation of radio bands. A chart of the radio spectrum is included in 
the Third Annual Report of the U. S. Federal Radio Commission, 1929. 

[ 197 ] 


small growth for so dynamic a period until it is remembered that the 
telephone had its development during these same years. 

The Telephonic Network. No single measure is adequate to describe 
the growth of the telephone network, for numbers of instruments (indica- 
tive of physical facilities), interconnection of instruments (indicative of 
efficiency in terms of potential contacts) and mechanical improvements 
(affecting ease, speed and certainty of contacts) must all be considered. 62 
Growth or improvement under any of these three headings will induce 
wider use of the agency. 

In 1900 there were 1,355,911 telephones in the country. 63 On 
December 31, 1930, there were 20,201,576. The total increased in every 
intervening year and the number per thousand population gained 
regularly by five year periods from 17.6 in 1900 to 163.6 in 1930. In 1931 
the total declined to 19,690,187. Basic in telephonic intercourse is the 
Bell System, composed of the American Telephone and Telegraph Com- 
pany and associated regional companies. In addition, the Bell System has 
working agreements for the mutual interchange of traffic with inde- 
pendently operated companies. Outside of this Bell System and these 
"Bell connected" lines is a constantly diminishing number of purely 
local telephone systems, for the most part rural lines. 

Not only has the number of telephones included in the Bell System 
steadily increased until recently (835,911 in 1900; 15,682,059 in 1930; 
15,389,994 in 1931) ; but the proportion of these within the nation's total 
has increased concomitantly. The same statements may be made of the 
network composed of the aggregated Bell and Bell connected telephones. 
Independent, non-Bell connected telephones increased to a maximum of 
2,279,578 in 1907. One-third of the telephone subscribers in that year were 
on these unconnected lines, and potential telephonic communication was 
to that extent limited. In 1931, only 93,849 subscribers, or 0.5 percent of 
the total, could not be reached by any subscriber within the Bell and Bell 
connected network. Thus people at nearly 20,000,000 stations, widely 
diffused among the homes and business places of the nation, are brought 
within "speaking distance" of each other. 

Accompanying the ramification of the system and the absorption of 
non-connecting telephones have been important technical improvements 
that increased the range of telephonic conversation and improved the 
audibility. In 1915 it became possible to talk from coast to coast. Exten- 
sions of services, in terms of number of instruments, have proceeded 

62 See discussion of special mechanical inventions in Chap. III. 

63 Unless otherwise stated, data are from Annual Report of the Directors of the American 
Telephone and Telegraph Company, to the Stockholders, 1900-1930, inclusive; and Telephone 
and Telegraph Statistics of the World, issued annually by the American Telephone and Tele- 
graph Co. For a detailed discussion of telephone statistics, see the monograph, 
section XII, especially Table 41. 

[ 198 ] 


faster than the use of these facilities, in terms of number of calls. 64 The 
estimated aggregate number of telephone calls in 1902 was 5,071,000,000, 
or 6.7 calls per telephone per day. 65 In 1927, the aggregate number of 
originating calls was estimated as 29,196,000,000, or 5.4 calls per phone 
per day. For the Bell System the decline in originating calls per telephone 
per day has been from 7.0 in 1902 to 4.1 in 1927. Further, the growth in 
per capita calls per person per year, which increased from 64 in 1902 to 
246 in 1930, has been at a rate somewhat slower than the growth in the 
number of telephones per thousand population. 

These figures testify to the permeation of the nation by the new 
agency, and indicate its acceptance, not as a luxury or a desirable con- 
venience, but as a necessity. The disadvantages of not having the tele- 
phone close at hand are so great that it is installed even where the total 
number of calls may be relatively few. The telephone directory has 
assumed importance as a city directory, and is useful in establishing 
contact. To be without a telephone or a telephone listing is to suffer a 
curious social isolation in a telephonic age. 

Range and Speed of Telephonic Contact. The role of the telephone in 
extending the range of contacts is indicated in the growth of the toll 
traffic. In 1902 the Census of Electrical Industries estimated the number 
of toll calls as 121,000,000, or 2.4 percent of all telephonic messages. 
While the total number of toll calls increased at each census, the ratio of 
these to the total telephone calls moved irregularly until 1917, since which 
year it has increased constantly. There were 1,087,000,000 toll messages 
in 1927, or 3.7 percent of all calls. Bell System local exchange messages 
doubled between 1917 and 1929 but toll messages trebled. 

While there are difficulties in interpreting the data pertaining to 
average length of haul of toll messages, 66 a sample of selected "long lines " 
of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company indicate a steady 
increase from 142.9 miles in 1922 to 176.2 miles in 1930. This is believed 
to be typical of the trend in toll hauls. Part of the increase reflects 
technical improvements which permit greater efficiency in longer trans- 
mission. Another factor may have been reductions in rates. Both are 
suggested by the fact that the longer calls have shown the more rapid 
growth in number. 

The increasing efficiency of telephone service in extending the range 
of contacts is also shown by the decrease in the time required for establish- 
ing connections and the growth in the percentage of all calls completed. 67 

64 Data pertaining to utilization from Census of Electrical Industries: Telephones, op. cit. 
1902-1927, quinquennially. For cautions in using these data, see note to Table 42 of the 

66 For basis of estimate, see the monograph, Table 42. 

66 For discussion of these see the monograph, section XII. 

67 For data see the monograph, Table 43. 

[199 ] 


In 1930, 82 percent of all toll calls were completed while the subscriber 
remained at his instrument. An increase in speed is also claimed for the 
dial telephone, which in 1930 constituted one-third of all Bell System 

The availability of an instrument easy to operate, the costs of which 
are within general reach and the efficiency of which has constantly 
improved, engenders a "telephone habit." There is rapid adaptation to 
the needs of daily life and a device that permits quick contact within a 
narrower or wider area soon serves to induce more frequent contacts 
within the same areas. The telephone has done this. The area of its useful- 
ness is, moreover, widening, for the telephone network now extends to 
foreign countries. In 1931 less than 2,000,000 of the world's 35,350,000 
telephones could not be reached by any subscriber in this country. The 
telephone, like the agencies hitherto discussed, is serving to bind 
together by a communication system the peoples of the world. 

Overlapping Telegraphic and Telephonic Services. It is becoming 
progressively more difficult to draw lines between the various wire and 
wireless services; the distinctions tend to become corporate rather than 
functional. This is illustrated in the "teletypewriter" and "printer" 
services now being offered by telegraph and telephone companies, in 
competition. Telegraph messages may be carried by wires simultaneously 
carrying telephonic conversations; and telephone conversations may be 
transmitted by wireless, just as dots and dashes are so transmitted. Both 
telephone and telegraph companies offer "facsimile transmission" serv- 
ice, and this is now possible by wireless across the oceans. While cor- 
porate entities may persist it is clear that there has been integration of 
functions. As far as the patron is concerned, point to point communica- 
tion is the end sought; he selects from various possibilities the particular 
agency that at any time best suits the purpose at hand. 

The Network of Point to Point Communication Agencies. The brief 
survey in section II has shown the existence of a number of agencies 
facilitating point to point communication, and all contributing to the 
ease, speed and volume of social contacts. The factor of control stressed 
in discussing the transportation agencies is once more apparent in con- 
sidering the relation of the agencies to each other. It is this that gives to 
the telephone its preeminent place in point to point communication just 
as freedom of control underlies the rapid development of the automobile. 
The postal service, like the railroad, operates on a fixed schedule. This 
restriction does not apply to the telegram, but neither letter nor wire 
message permits a free interchange of thought as in direct conversation. 

As with the transportation agencies, there are circumstances under 
which each point to point agency has special advantages. The telephone 
does not as yet record messages. Here is the value of the mail and tele- 

r 200 i 


gram. Where speed is necessary, post office delivery cannot compete with 
wire transmission, though telegraph may compete with telephone. The 
telegraph has the special advantage that once filed, the sender may dis- 
miss his message from his mind knowing that it will be expeditiously 
delivered. In short, wire and wireless services now permeate the country 
and connect it with other countries. A vast system establishes potential 
contacts between the individual citizens. The patron wants communica- 
tion service and the media are at hand to supply his demands and his 
needs. While there are duplications of facilities arising through multiplic- 
ity of corporate ownership, these, with few exceptions, do not now react 
against the efficiency of transmission. The important point is that on the 
spur of the moment the individual can set in motion the instrumentalities 
through which a message will be carried to a designated individual 
without interruption. Such ease of contact, through various channels, is 
a unique phenomenon of the present century. 

What is the place of the individual within this network that in a sense 
converges upon him? What is the frequency with which he utilizes the 
several agencies at his disposal? The following tabulation shows the fre- 
quency rates, or average intervals between utilizations of each agency, 
as calculated for the years 1907 and 1927: 









Local letters 



Local telephone calls . . . 



Non-local letters 



Toll telephone calls.... 

















These figures indicate the average interval for the average person 
between incoming messages. For example, in 1907 the average person in 
this country received a local letter every 18 days; in 1927, every 9 days. 
At the rate of 1907, the average interval between the receipt of telegrams 
was 11 months and 2 days; in 1927, 6 months and 23 days. 68 

The telephone is clearly the most obtrusive of agencies, and local calls 
are an accepted part of daily routine, as is the delivery of the mail. Al- 
though non-local letters still outnumber local letters in the mail box of 
the hypothetical average citizen, the local letters are increasing in fre- 
quency at a more rapid rate than non-local. In general, the tabulation 

68 For further discussion of methods involved in deriving this tabulation, see the 
monograph, footnote to Table 44. 

[ 201 ] 


i that, except for toll telephone calls, contacts within narrower 

Caries that may be designated as the local area have been increasing 

a more rapid rate than contacts that are non-local. And the single 

exception may not in reality be such, since it involves a tremendous 

traffic in suburban telephone messages which may be of local significance. 

The data suggest three observations: 

1. Point to point communication has multiplied greatly, and over 
widening areas. 

2. Local contacts are more numerous than non-local contacts, because 
of the wide diffusion and habitual use of the telephone, which instrument 
dominates the field. 

3. Relatively, local contacts have increased more rapidly than non- 
local contacts. 

The data of sections I and II suggest a hypothesis: The intensifica- 
tion of local contacts may act to preserve and even enhance local patterns 
of habit, attitude and behavior, and serve as an inhibitor of the process 
of cultural levelling which is so commonly assumed as an outstanding 
and unopposed tendency of contemporary life. This is only a hypothesis. 
Yet, if it is assumed that localisms are strengthened by multiplication 
of contacts between individuals, it is a hypothesis meriting further 
and careful study. It is, of course, possible that even though local contacts 
are relatively more frequent, their intensity is counterbalanced by even 
more powerful non-local contacts, especially as established through the 
agencies of mass impression which are to be discussed later in this chapter. 
It may also be that closer local contacts merely serve to provide channels 
through which standardizing influences diffuse within local areas. Finally, 
while the result of modern communication may be to strengthen certain 
aspects of localism, it may simultaneously serve to break down the con- 
trol on individual conduct hitherto exerted by the relatively closely knit 
primary group. This control may be lessened through travel and enhanced 
mobility and also by the fact that patterns of delinquency, for example, 
can spread easily through the workings of the agencies of mass impression. 
The data summarized in the chapter do not without further elaboration 
warrant a balancing of the various possibilities, but they do raise interest- 
ing questions. 

The effects upon the individual of this elaboration of facilities can 
only be suggested. Of the total contacts of a given day, an increasing 
proportion apparently tend toward brevity and impersonality, induced 
by the use of mediating devices. Within this part of the aggregate are 
lost those values that inhere in more intimate, leisurely and protracted 
personal discussion. The ultimate effects are matters for conjecture. 
There is, too, an increase in the tempo of life. Mechanical aids make it 
possible to communicate more extensively and to transact without per- 

[ 202 ] 


sonal contact many of the interchanges which formerly necessitated it. 
The time thus saved may be utilized in further contacts. Devices that 
permit speed in turn induce it, and the agencies here discussed have 
contributed their part toward this result. Finally, the individual is 
increasingly accessible to a variety of instrumentalities which maintain 
him in actual or potential contact with any of his fellows, and them with 
him. Personal isolation inaccessibility to the demands of others for 
access to one's attention is increasingly rare, and, when desired, increas- 
ingly difficult to achieve. 


The agencies of mass impression, as distinguished from the mediating 
agencies that facilitate contacts of specific individuals, are those through 
which large numbers of individuals may simultaneously receive the same 
communications and be correspondingly influenced. The aggregate that 
constitutes public opinion is derived from many sources, informal and 
formal. Private conversation, casual discussions, recreational groups, 
semi-formal gatherings, ceremonials, holiday celebrations, public speeches, 
the schools and the church, all play their part in creating and reinforcing 
collective attitudes. In this chapter, however, attention will be limited 
to three dominant agencies the newspaper and periodical, the motion 
picture, and the radio. 

The Newspaper and Periodical. At the turn of the century the rail- 
road and electric lines were outstanding in the transportation field, the 
postal service and the telegraph were dominating in point to point com- 
munication and the newspaper and periodical were preeminent agencies 
of mass impression. 69 

Newspapers: Numbers and Circulation. The terms "newspaper" and 
"periodical" embrace publications of various types and purposes; it is 
accordingly difficult to summarize changes affecting either in any single 
set of figures. Aggregate circulation might adequately show changes but 
even as late as 1915 circulation figures are untrustworthy. Only during 
the past decade are such figures dependable, and then not for all publica- 
tions. Figures indicating numbers of publications are more trustworthy 
for the earlier years and will be utilized here. 70 

The largest number of daily newspapers was in 1917 (2,514); there 
had been a slightly irregular growth from 2,200 in 1900. Then came a 
tendency toward consolidation and the trend is now in the direction of 

69 The distinction here is between newspapers and all non-newspaper periodicals, includ- 
ing magazines, which will be hereafter referred to as periodicals. 

70 Data on numbers of publications compiled by Rose Epstein from annual volumes of 
N. W. Ayer & Son's American Newspaper Annual and Directory, continuing as N. W. 
Ayer & Son 8 Directory of Newspapers and Periodicals t Philadelphia. For detailed tabu- 
lation, with critical note, see the monograph, Table 45. 

[ 203 ] 


fewer papers. In 1931 there were 2,268. Weekly publications numbered 
15,681 in 1900 and 16,323 in 1915. They have gradually, though irregu- 
larly, declined to 12,825 in 1930 and 12,636 in 1931. Of these weekly 
publications it is estimated that 11,015 are country newspapers. Semi- 
weekly publications increased from 515 in 1900 to 617 in 1907, fluctuated 
about this number until 1915 and fell off, with increases in occasional 
years, to 454 in 1931. Tri- weekly publications never exceeded 95 during 
the period and were 66 in 1931. Newspapers in 1931 were published in 
9,830 communities, in most of which only a country weekly is found. 

The Ayer's data on daily newspapers include many special interest 
publications such as trade dailies and foreign language papers. More 
important are English language daily newspapers of general circulation. 
In general, both morning and evening papers show a downward trend 
with the morning papers declining more rapidly. Morning papers in 1921 
numbered 427; in 1930, 388; in 1931, 384. Evening papers were 1,601 in 
1921, 1,554 in 1930, and 1,539 in 1931. 71 The combined net loss was 105. 
Sunday papers, including dailies with Sunday editions, also showed a 
loss, dropping irregularly from 545 in 1921 to 521 in 1930 and 513 in 1931. 

Contrary to this trend in English language papers, the totals of 
foreign language dailies remained relatively constant during the first 
three decades of the century. Ayer listed 148 in 1900, 156 in 1910, 160 in 
1920, and 159 in 1930. 72 In 1930 there were 58 morning foreign language 
dailies, 13 more than in 1910, but the 63 evening papers were 14 fewer 
than the number in 1910. 73 In view of war time feelings and decreases in 
immigration, these figures appear surprising. Possibly they reflect at- 
tempts of alien groups to maintain cultural identity even in the face of 
rapid cultural absorption. 

In so far as it involves papers with straight party designations, the 
decline in numbers of English language dailies has affected both of the 
two major political parties. In 1900, 732 dailies acknowledged themselves 
in the Ayer's directory as "democrat" and in 1930, 434. The correspond- 
ing "republican" figures were 801 and 505. Papers labelled "independent 
democrat" and "independent republican" have in both cases increased 
about five-fold, while papers professing to be "independent" politically 
jumped from 397 in 1900 to 792 in 1930. These now constitute the largest 
single class. 74 The foreign language dailies show a somewhat similar trend, 
except that "democratic" papers have suffered a far sharper decline than 

71 Compiled as of December 31 by Editor & Publisher, trade publication. Cf. Editor 
and Publisher, International Year Book Number, vol. 64, p. 112, 1932; and the monograph, 
Table 46. Circulation data that follow are from same source. 

72 Compiled by W. Carl Masche from American Newspaper Annual and Directory, 
op. cit. 

73 For detailed analysis see the monograph, Table 47. 

74 Compiled by W. Carl Masche. For detailed analysis see the monograph, Table 48 
and passim. 

\ 204 1 


"republican" and the "independent" papers were a larger proportion 
of the total throughout the period. This increase in claimed political 
independence may indicate that the newspaper is becoming less important 
as an adjunct of the political party, that it seeks greater editorial freedom, 
or that it desires to include various political adherents within its circula- 
tion or advertising clientele. 

All of this raises significant problems of control of opinion, especially 
when coupled with increased chain ownership and consolidation. Modern 
newspapers are profit enterprises. With them, more than in other indus- 
tries, retrenchment is difficult, for a paper must be issued regularly and 
attempts to cut content are quickly reflected in circulation losses. Con- 
solidation and multiple ownership arise to meet the need for adjustment 
in the face of mounting costs. Cities having a single daily newspaper 
numbered in each decennial year, 1900-1930, inclusive, as follows: 353, 
504, 686, 913. This increase represents suspensions and consolidations. 
The restriction of the reader's choice to a single paper has interesting 
implications. Monopoly of a field may mean a more independent journal- 
ism but it makes possible a more deliberate selection and coloring of news 

Although numbers of general circulation newspapers had been declin- 
ing, aggregate daily circulation gained regularly from 1921 to 1930 with 
a drop of about 2.5 per cent in 1931. For morning papers a maximum of 
118.5 per thousand population in the United States was reached in 1929. 
For evening papers the maximum was in 1930 with a daily average of 
25,155,000 copies, or 204.4 per thousand population. Sunday circulation 
attained its high peak in 1929 (26,880,000) with 220.5 copies per thousand 
inhabitants. There was a drop in 1930 and 1931. The figures for the period 
suggest a slight shift of preference to evening papers, and also that news- 
paper circulation as a whole is perhaps close to the point of maximum 

Periodicals: Numbers and Circulation. All groups of periodicals, when 
classed according to frequency of issue, reached their maximum number 
in either 1929 or 1930. Their growth throughout the period from 1900 to 
1930 has been sharper and more regular than is found in the newspaper 
series for any portion of the field. The appearance of new bi-monthly and 
quarterly publications has been notable. Monthlies, the largest single 
group, increased in number from 2,328 in 1900 to 3,804 in 1930, and 
quarterlies, the next largest class, more than tripled. 75 Both showed losses 
in 1932. 

These increases probably reflect twentieth century changes in social 
organization. The growth in number of what sociologists have termed 

76 For detailed analysis of these figures, see the monograph, Table 45 and passim. Data 
compiled by Rose Epstein from American Newspaper Annual and Directory, op. cit. See also 
Table 1 in Chap. VIII. 

[ 205 ] 


secondary groups, in which the unity comes from specialized common 
interests, has been striking. Contact among members in such groups is 
maintained through publications and the need for these organs is reflected 
in the data. There has also been some increase in numbers of general 
purpose magazines. It is not possible to summarize circulation of these 
periodical publications. For selected classes, as reported in Editor & 
Publisher, the growth has been great. 76 Nine of eleven women's magazines 
listed in 1931 exceed a million a month and five of the general monthlies 
exceed 600,000 an issue. There are agricultural journals with a million 
circulation a month. Of the classes summarized by Editor & Publisher, 
circulation in the weekly group showed the most rapid gains. In aggregate, 
these periodical circulations are impressive and attest to the avidity with 
which the public is reading. 

Widening News Horizons. Following the growth of the great news 
associations, American papers have at their disposal more news from a 
wider variety of sources than ever before. A study of Associated Press 
traffic for one week in 1929 showed that, excluding financial and stock 
exchange tables, it transmitted 2,562,715 words in 17,323 items with date 
lines from 1,850 different communities. During the period, 94.2 percent of 
the wordage and 93.9 percent of the items were of domestic origin. News 
sources are highly concentrated; one-fourth of the domestic items bore 
date lines of 17 cities. That metropolitan centers shape the news patterns 
of the country can scarcely be questioned. The press associations are 
clearly important in spreading the values and interests of the great urban 
centers into the smaller communities. 

Washington is a news center of special significance, and news from there 
is one bond connecting the citizen with the government. Since 1900 
impressive increases have occurred both in the number of accredited 
newspaper men in the Congressional press gallery and in the number of 
papers with Washington press representatives. There has also been a 
marked increase in numbers and personnel of syndicates and press 
associations. For newspaper readers throughout the nation, there is closer 
contact with the capital. 77 

For the individual the newspaper constitutes the principal source of 
information and stereotypes about foreign affairs. Woodward in 1927 
showed that the typical American morning newspaper devoted about 
5 percent of its news space to dispatches from abroad. 78 Aggregate figures 
of the cable and wireless companies dispatching press matter indicate 
increase in volume of incoming and outgoing transatlantic and transpacific 
news. Each year between 1916 and 1929 the wordage received from 

76 See the monograph, Table 49. 

77 For detailed analysis, based on data compiled from the Congressional Directory by 
Charles Kachel, see the monograph, section XIV. 

78 Woodward, Julian, Foreign News in American Morning Newspapers, New York, 1929. 

[ 206 ] 


Europe was more than double that transmitted, although the disparity 
has lessened. In transpacific dispatches, the words sent to this country 
were fewer than the outgoing in six of the eleven years between 
1920 and 1930. The volume of Pacific press material is relatively small. 
This is explained in part by the higher cable costs. In 1929, 20,731,000 
words were received from, and 8,781,000 words sent to, Europe, whereas 
only 726,000 words came from, and 1,299,000 words were sent across the 
Pacific. 79 Europe, owing to cultural and geographical proximity, is 
obviously more in the consciousness of the American public than 
are the countries across the Pacific, judged by volume of press 
material. This suggests a lack of balance in reporting world affairs, 
which, in view of recent developments, may be regarded as short- 
sighted. The importance of the Orient and Australasia may justify more 
complete news coverage. 

It is impossible here to discuss the qualitative aspects of newspaper 
and periodical contents. The present purpose has been to portray in brief 
the development and importance of agencies by which materials from 
ever widening areas are brought to increasing numbers of newspaper and 
periodical readers with constantly accelerated speeds. Every agency of 
transportation and point to point communication is utilized. No corner of 
the earth is left unobserved, and accounts of the events of the world pour in 
continuously for selection, editing and printing, so that individuals 
throughout the country may read about them. Regardless of intrinsic 
importance, the grist of events does bring readers in momentary touch 
with regions and persons far removed. Whether enhanced understanding 
or increased distrust among peoples results depends largely upon 
selection and emphasis. It would be desirable to know whether newspaper 
materials from distant points are increasing at a more rapid rate than 
those from the area of publication. Such knowledge might again throw 
light upon the net results of the antithesis between widespread standard- 
ization and intensification of localism; but, unfortunately, evidence is 
not available. 

The Advertising Function. Advertising is another function of the 
newspaper and periodical, and these publications are increasingly 
dependent upon advertising revenues. In 1909, 63.8 percent of newspaper 
income and 51.6 percent of periodical income was from advertising; in 
1927, 74.1 percent and 63.4 percent, respectively. 80 As selling aids in 
national markets these publications have their greatest advertising 
utility. Following the World War national newspaper advertising lineage 

79 Data on wordage in transoceanic press dispatches were compiled from figures supplied 
by all the commercial cable and wireless companies regularly engaged in receiving and 
transmitting such material. Details are presented in the monograph, Table 50. 

80 U. S. Bureau of the Census, Census of Manufactures: Printing and Publishing, 1919, 
1923 and 1927. Details in the monograph, Table 52. 

[ 207 ] 


jumped fabulously. From 1921 onward there were irregular gains with 
retardation evident in 1930 81 and a loss of 9.7 percent in 1931. 

The growing proportion of newspaper and periodical revenues received 
from advertising gives rise simultaneously to claims of subservience to and 
independence from advertisers' control. It may be suggested that what- 
ever control is exerted by publishers over news columns arises not because 
of direct dictation by advertisers, which is probably not frequent, but 
because the publisher sees the world of economic and social activity from 
the standpoint of a business man operating a commercial undertaking 
of magnitude. It is inevitable, however, that individuals with special 
interests will seek to utilize the mass circulation of newspapers and 
periodicals for their own ends. Publishers are constantly confronted with 
materials which have both news and publicity value. The rise of the press 
agent and public relations counsel reflects the desire of many individuals 
and groups for favorable newspaper mention, often without paying for it, 
and it has become increasingly difficult for the newspaper to protect 
itself and its readers against materials which are essentially of an advertis- 
ing nature. 

The Motion Picture. 82 The motion picture has varied uses. It is as a 
medium of entertainment that it achieves uniqueness as an agency of 
mass impression. By combining sight and sound, it commands the 
concentrated attention of those it reaches as does no other agency. Its 
rise to popularity has been rapid since the first "nickelodeon" appeared 
about 1905 or earlier. It is estimated that on January 31, 1931, there were 
22,731 motion picture houses in the country, with aggregate seating 
capacity of 11, 300,000. 83 About 14,000 of these were operating at least 
two days a week. Small houses have been closing in recent years because 
of competition with larger theaters and because of the expense of installing 
sound apparatus, bringing probable declines in the number of theaters. 
Attendance through 1930, however, appeared to gain, though a decline 
has since set in. Competent opinion estimates about 100,000,000 admis- 
sions to motion picture performances weekly in the United States (1930). 
To meet the needs for pictures, 500 feature films with about 200 prints 
of each were made in 1930. 

During the two years 1929 and 1930, the silent picture suddenly 
became outmoded by the introduction of the "talkie," although silent 
films are still produced, largely for export. On January 1, 1931, 12,500 

81 From data compiled by Editor & Publisher, op. cit., for 23 selected cities. See the 
monograph, Table 51. See also Chap. XVII. 

s 2 See also Chaps. Ill and XVIII. 

83 Estimates by Motion Picture Division, United States Department of Commerce. 
The following estimate of operations is by the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors 
of America, Inc. Competitive conditions within the industry have prevented the develop- 
ment of adequate statistics concerning it. During 1931 and 1932 there has been a decrease 
in the number of motion picture theatres in operation. 

[ 208 ] 


theaters in the country had been wired .for sound. 84 Although the sound 
picture has been generally accepted for domestic exhibition, it still 
presents complex problems for producers. It permits a degree of character- 
ization that was impossible to the silent film. The latter could indicate 
subjective states only by indirection and by captions. Hence, it depended 
for its appeal upon pantomime and action. With the voice, the thoughts 
and emotions of characters can be revealed directly and the pictures 
attain a psychological depth that action alone could not give. This 
involves subtleties that may be above the interest or background of the 
audience. Where talk is overstressed there is danger of loss of speed and 
interest; where action dominates, the talk becomes stilted and stereo- 
typed. Producers confront the difficulty of balancing action and words to 
create a semblance of reality that is at the same time within the level of 
experience of the audience. In further consequence, the range of subject 
matter has been greatly widened and in many respects the motion picture 
has come more closely to resemble the stage. This seems to have influenced 
habits of attendance. Whereas individuals formerly went to performances 
regardless of what was to be seen, observers contend that there is now a 
tendency to select more carefully, as one might choose a theatrical 

Motion Pictures and Social Values. Although the motion picture is 
primarily an agency for amusement, it is no less important as an influence 
in shaping attitudes and social values. The fact that it is enjoyed as 
entertainment may even enhance its importance in this respect. Any 
discussion of this topic must start with a realization that for the vast 
audience the pictures and "filmland" have tremendous vitality. Pictures 
and actors are regarded with a seriousness that is likely to escape the 
casual observer who employs formal criteria of judgment. Editors of 
popular motion picture magazines are deluged with letters from motion 
picture patrons, unburdening themselves of an infinite variety of feelings 
and attitudes, deeply personal, which focus around the lives and activities 
of those inhabiting the screen world. One editor receives over 80,000 such 
letters a year. These are filled with self-revelations which indicate, 
sometimes deliberately, more often unconsciously, the influence of the 
screen upon manners, dress, codes and matters of romance. They disclose 
the degree to which ego stereotypes may be moulded by the stars of the 
screen. Commercial interests appreciate the role of the motion picture 
as a fashioner of tastes, and clothes patterned after the apparel of popular 
stars, and for which it is known there will be a demand, are manufactured 
in advance of the release of pictures in which these stars will appear. 
Names and portraits of moving picture actors and actresses have also 

84 Estimate supplied by Motion Picture Division, United States Department of Com- 

[ 209 ] 


been extensively used for prestige purposes in the advertisements of 
various commodities. 

While it is the dramatic subjects that are of major interest in the study 
of the motion picture, the news reel also has won popular favor. With its 
subjects selected from a wide range of events that might be filmed, it 
presumably plays a part in inculcating values, although its role has 
never been adequately studied. 

It is because of its influence in shaping attitudes and inculcating values 
and standards that there has been widespread discussion of motion 
picture censorship. On one hand are those urging extreme control, and on 
the other those who seek unfettered development. Because of variation 
in local standards, it is extremely difficult to establish a common 
basis for film eliminations where censorship exists. Not infrequently 
producers must cut pictures after production at considerable expense 
to meet local requirements. In attempts to avoid this, censorship 
within the industry has developed in the National Board of Review. 
The need for thoroughgoing study of the social effects of the motion 
picture seems clear. 

Advertising and Motion Pictures. Lantern slides carrying advertising 
were exhibited in the intervals between entertainment pictures from the 
start. Advertising films followed naturally. In 1930 appeared "sponsored" 
motion pictures, having entertainment value, "presented by - 
a given advertiser, but without other necessary relation to his product 
or services. The device was clearly borrowed from the new technique of 
radio advertising. For exhibiting such films theaters were paid on an 
attendance basis. They aroused much opposition, not only from the 
public, but particularly from the newspapers and magazines which feared 
advertising competition; in consequence they were less generally used in 
1931. Attempts were also made in 1930 to include unobtrusive advertising 
within feature pictures. The technique is still incipient, but offers new 
possibilities of control. 

Non-theatrical Motion Pictures. Non-theatrical uses of the motion 
picture are varied. It is estimated by the Department of Commerce that 
over 190,000 non-theatrical projectors are in use, including home sets. 
In 517 primary and secondary schools within one year there were 44,186 
showings of pictures, of which 73 percent were in connection with cur- 
ricular activity. 85 Churches have used the motion picture extensively 
as a means of attracting and holding younger members. It is also used in 
connection with sales campaigns, advertising and demonstrations of 
products, and an extensive market has developed for non-entertainment 
films of this character. Films also have value in showing scientific tech- 

86 Data supplied by Motion Picture Division, Department of Commerce, which is 
studying non-commercial uses of the motion picture. 

[ 210 I 


niques. Non-theatrical uses of motion pictures promise to develop far 
more extensively in the future. 

Radio Broadcasting. 86 The dramatic evolution of the radio 
within one decade from a mysterious curiosity to a widely diffused and 
universally accepted instrument of entertainment, business, learning 
and mass communication, has few if any counterparts in social history. 
Its rapid development has brought many problems of organization and 
control which as yet are not definitely settled. How shall broadcasting be 
supported? How shall the facilities be allocated? Who shall control the 
programs? How may all interests be conserved? How are legal concepts 
of property rights affected ? These are but a few of many questions await- 
ing conclusive answers. 

Ownership and Distribution of Radio Sets. The federal census of 
1930 reported 12,078,345 families owning radio sets. 87 On January 1, 1932, 
according to an estimate, there were 16,026,620 sets in use in the United 
States. 88 The distribution is not uniform throughout the country. It 
varies from region to region, between urban and rural districts and accord- 
ing to economic status and race. There is also a metropolitan concentra- 
tion that suggests a "pattern of ownership" around the large cities. 
These will be discussed briefly in turn. 

The largest proportion of families with sets is in the middle Atlantic 
division (New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania) and the smallest 
proportion in the east south central division (Kentucky, Tennessee, 
Alabama and Mississippi). Within these divisions there are also wide 
variations. Among states, the extremes are New Jersey (63.3 percent) and 
Mississippi (5.4 percent). Ownership is highest in the eastern, northern 
and Pacific states, and lowest in the south. 89 

In general, ownership ratios in cities (10,000 or over) are greater than 
in non-urban areas. In Alabama, for example, the percentage of families 
having sets, by counties, ranged from 1.4 to 22.6; but in the city of Birm- 
ingham, was 26.7. For the state as a whole, the ratio was 9.5; for the 
cities of over 10,000, 18.0. 90 

86 See also Chaps. Ill and XVIIT. 

87 It should be noticed that the units are families with sets, rather than number of sets. 
Data used here are from Press Releases of the U. S. Bureau of the Census on Families and 
Radio Sets, appearing irregularly during 1931. The numbers here are slightly larger than 
given in the census volume on families, because of a slightly different definition of the term 

88 Estimated by Columbia Broadcasting System on basis of federal census and sub- 
sequent sales in 1930 and 1931, with allowance for replacement. 

89 For detailed analysis of the radio data, with tabulation by states, see Trends in Com- 
munication, especially Table 53. 

90 Except for the middle Atlantic division, a comparison of the percentage of all families 
owning sets in the several geographic divisions with the median of the corresponding ratios 
for the cities exceeding 10,000 in population shows the median ratio of the cities to be 
higher. The one exception (New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania) and the New England 


The economic differential appears by inference. The states in which 
set ownership is highest are also the states of greatest wealth. Further, 
the cities in which at least three-fourths of all families own sets are gener- 
ally suburban, adjacent to large cities, where average economic status is 
high. The highest ownership ratio (88.7) is found in Park Ridge, Illinois, 
a residential suburb of Chicago. This high ratio of ownership in residential 
suburban districts makes safe the assumption that concentration of 
wealth and radio ownership are related. 

States with high proportions of Negro population are low in set 
ownership. The ownership ratios among the white populations of southern 
states would doubtless be much higher than general state ratios indicate. 
This differential reflects the low average economic and social status of 
the Negro. Low set ownership in the south may in part reflect climatic 
conditions which affect broadcasting by increasing static and decreasing the 
efficiency of reception, although other factors are unquestionably involved. 

The concentration of sets in and around metropolitan areas, to which 
the preceding differentials together lead, appears to be productive of 
still further concentration. In such areas, for instance, many communities 
in which economic status is not above the average nevertheless show 
higher set ownership than would be expected on the basis of their urban 
character alone. The importance of access to metropolitan radio programs 
must not be neglected as a factor; nevertheless, the data suggest the 
existence of metropolitan patterns of culture that call inordinately for 
possession of a "set." 

Back of these differentials are two factors that should be kept in 
mind: (1) low set ownership may reflect inadequate power facilities 
rather than cultural non-appreciation of the radio ; (2) broadcasting is an 
economic enterprise and develops accordingly in large cities where there 
are potential revenues, with program offerings correspondingly more 
attractive to the radio audience. Where programs are good and reception 
is clear, there is inducement to ownership. Whatever the final explanations, 
it seems clear that the radio is primarily an urban phenomenon. While it 
contributes to a breakdown of rural isolation, it may be affecting even 
more, though in ways not entirely clear, the residents of the cities. 

Rise of Commercial Broadcasting. The early rapid and unplanned 
growth of broadcasting in the United States produced chaotic conditions 
which prevailed until 1927 when the Federal Radio Commission was 
given control. 91 But even prior to 1927, changes in station ownership 
were taking place. Many of the first stations were adjuncts of radio shops, 

group (where the difference is very slight) presumably reflect the many suburban com- 
munities of less than 10,000 in which the set ownership is sufficiently high to offset the 
generally lower non-urban ownership. For details of this comparison, see the monograph, 
section XVI. 

91 See Chap. XXVIII. 

[ 212 ] 


the electrical business and service companies. In 1922, 126, or nearly 
one-third, were so owned. Gradually commercial broadcasting companies 
came to prominence. In 1930 more than one-third of the 612 stations in 
the country were operated by them, while only 37 were then operated by 
electric and service companies. 

The total number of stations in the country reached a maximum in 
1927, since which year the number has dropped annually, as a result of 
the restrictive policy adopted by the Federal Radio Commission. 92 
Ownership of stations by churches, 93 educational institutions, and news- 
papers reached maxima in or by 1927, and has since declined, both 
absolutely and relatively. At the end of the fiscal year, June 30, 1930, 
educational institutions operated 52 stations, churches 30, and newspapers 
36. These shifts in ownership indicate the rise of the radio as a commer- 
cial, advertising industry. This development has brought much criticism, 
both from those who feel that radio should be more extensively used for 
educational purposes, and from those who object to the domination they 
allege is held by the broadcasting companies and the advertisers from 
whom they derive support. 

Its news and advertising functions, especially the latter, have brought 
the radio into competition with the newspaper and, to a lesser degree, 
the periodical. 94 In sample periods in 1931 only 29.2 percent of the pro- 
grams of one of the chains, and 34.7 percent of the other, were productive 
of advertising revenue (sponsored programs). These sponsored programs, 
however, tend to be at hours when listening is at its maximum. The 
sums involved are sufficiently great to arouse publishers. Exclusive of 
talent costs to advertisers, their purchases of program time from the two 
major broadcasting companies increased from $10,252,497 in 1928 to 
$26,819,156 in 1930. There is evidence that the current decline in news- 
paper advertising cannot be attributed primarily to the increase in radio 
advertising as is frequently done, since the increases in radio income are 
much less than the losses in advertising revenue sustained by the news- 
papers. Further, one study seems to indicate that advertisers who use 
radio have cut their newspaper advertising appropriations less than 
advertisers who do not use the newer medium. 95 The relations of these 
two agencies of mass impression are problems as yet unsettled. There is 
evidence that control of radio advertising would be desirable in order to 
prohibit types denied to newspapers. 

92 Data from U. S. Radio Division, Radio Service Bulletin; ownership figures compiled 
by Herman S. Hettinger from U. S. Radio Division, Commercial and Government Radio 
Stations, annual, and Federal Radio Commission, List of Licensed Broadcasting Stations 
by Call Letters, intermittently. For details see the monograph, Table 54. 

93 On the church and the radio, see Chaps. Ill and XX. 

94 On radio advertising, see Chap. XVII. 

96 For radio advertising revenues, see National Advertising Records, monthly. Cf. Orrin 
E. Dunlap, Radio in Advertising, New York, 1931, especially foreword by Roy S. Durstine. 

[ 213 ] 


There is also public objection to advertising announcements. The 
American system of supporting radio through advertising is not generally 
found abroad, where there is usually governmental monopoly, operation, 
or strict control, coupled with a tax on all sets. There are apparent advan- 
tages in both systems and it does not seem clear that either possesses 
unqualified superiority. The newness of broadcasting, with lack of exper- 
ience upon which to base opinions, makes it difficult to evaluate the 
various plans of operation. 

Classification of stations according to power shows trends toward 
greater power. The stations under 100 watt power in 1923 were more 
than four times the number in 1930, whereas the number of stations with 
higher powers have all shown an upward trend. In 1923 there was no 
station in excess of 5,000 watts; in 1930 there were more than 75. 96 

Concentration of Broadcasting. Growing concentration in the control 
of broadcasting facilities is shown in the membership of the two major 
broadcasting "chains." Chains are stations associated under a central 
company for the simultaneous broadcast of programs. Through "hook- 
ups" the national company is provided with widespread outlets for its 
advertising (sponsored) programs, while the individual stations have 
the advantage of obtaining programs at less cost than they otherwise 
could. The aggregate number of stations associated with the National 
Broadcasting Company and the Columbia Broadcasting System grew 
from 64 in 1928 to 150 on January 1, 1931. In addition to these two organ- 
izations, there are several lesser chains. While the majority of stations in 
the country have no chain affiliation, chain stations have advantages 
that give them great strength and popularity. With the trend toward 
increased power, which means high operating costs, it may be predicted 
that there will be a continuation of the downward trend in numbers of 
stations, with further concentration within the major chains. 

The Radio Audience. Information concerning the radio audience is 
fragmentary. 97 There is evidence that three-fourths of all sets are in 
use at some time each day. Some authorities claim an average of 3.1 
listeners per set, which, using the number of sets enumerated in the 1930 
federal census, would give a daily audience of 37,442,869. 98 The average 
set, according to the Starch survey, is in operation 2 hours and 25 minutes 
daily and all investigators agree that the maximum number of listeners 
is between 8 and 10 p.m. 

96 See the monograph, Table 55, for detailed analysis. 

97 This is surveyed in more detail in the monograph, section XVI. 

98 Data drawn from Daniel Starch, Revised Study of Radio Broadcasting, National 
Broadcasting Co., New York, 1930; "Radio Advertising," annoymous, Fortune, vol. 2, 
pp. 65 ff ., 1930 (summarizing an unpublished study by Crossley, Inc., research organization, 
not to be confused with Crosley Radio) ; and information supplied by John J. Karol, Colum- 
bia Broadcasting System. 

[ 214 1 


There are undoubtedly wide daily variations in the size of the audience 
of any station, depending upon program popularity. The prevailing 
"listening area" of a station seems not to be circular with the station at 
the center, but is irregular, with curious results in the distribution of 
station audiences. For example, some Massachusetts stations apparently 
have closer "listeners' contact" with communities in Maine than they 
do with localities close at hand. Such facts indicate that regional and 
sectional consciousness may be affected in ways that at the moment 
cannot be predicted." 

Certain it is that the radio tends to promote cultural levelling. Negroes 
barred from entering universities can receive instruction from the same 
institutions by radio; residents outside of the large cities who never 
have seen the inside of an opera house can become familiar with the 
works of the masters; communities where no hall exists large enough 
for a symphony concert can listen to the largest orchestras of the country; 
and the fortunes of a Negro comedy pair can provide social talk through- 
out the nation. Isolation of backward regions is lessened by the new 
agency of communication, and moreover, by short wave transmission 
national as well as local isolation is broken, for events in foreign nations 
are thereby brought to the United States. The radio, like the newspaper, 
has widened the horizons of the individual, but more vitally, since it 
makes him an auditory participant in distant events as they transpire 
and communicates to him some of the emotional values that inhere in 

The Individual and the Agencies of Mass Impression. It is as 
agencies of control that the newspaper, the motion picture and the radio 
raise problems of social importance. The brief survey of their develop- 
ment in each instance shows increased utilization coupled with concentra- 
tion of facilities. For his news, the reader of the paper is dependent 
largely upon the great news gathering agencies; for his motion pictures, 
there is dependency upon a group of well organized producers; for his 
radio, he comes more and more in contact with large and powerful 
stations, dominated increasingly by the nation wide broadcasting organi- 
zations. Mass impression on so vast a scale has never before been possible. 
The effects produced may now be quite unpremeditated, although the 
machinery opens the way for mass impression in keeping with special ends, 
private or public. The individual, the figures show, increasingly utilizes 
these media and they inevitably modify his attitudes and behavior. 
What these modifications are to be depends entirely upon those who 
control the agencies. Greater possibilities for social manipulation, for ends 
that are selfish or socially desirable, have never existed. The major 
problem is to protect the interests and welfare of the individual citizen. 

99 Cf. Listening Areas, Columbia Broadcasting System, New York, 1930. 

[ 215 ] 



It is not the purpose to summarize here the many changes which 
have been traced in the preceding sections, for summaries have been 
included section by section. A few general points stand out from the 

1. Changes within the transportation system have engendered a 
mobility of the population that is unprecedented. It is not only the few, 
but the many who travel. The use of the private automobile makes 
possible travel for travel's sake, and travel has become an accepted habit. 

2. There has been a constant extension of the range of mobility, 
fostered by modern transportation agencies. 

3. Popular conceptions of speed and distance have been completely 
revised, in consequence of which the world has become psychologically 
much smaller, and an enhanced interdependency results. 

4. There has been a significant shift in domestic transportation from 
dependence upon commercial vehicles to the private automobile. Mobility 
is accompanied by enhancement of freedom of movement. 

5. The agencies of point to point communication have similarly 
extended the radius of man's contacts. 

6. An interconnected system of communication has come into exist- 
ence whereby the individual is enabled at scarcely a moment's notice to 
place himself in contact with almost any other person in the nation. 
Speed and distance concepts, again, have been totally recast. No longer 
do men in any part of the world live to themselves alone. For an increasing 
majority in the United States and for a substantial fraction in the whole 
western world, the telephone bell is always potentially within ear shot, 
the postman and telegraph messenger are just around the corner and the 
cable and wireless may bring messages which are dated the day after they 
are received. 

7. Agencies of mass impression subject the individual to stimuli of 
sight and sound that may serve to make him think and act, in some 
measure, like millions of his fellows. 

8. With the concentration of these agencies the control over his 
behavior is increased. 

9. The integration of the agencies of communication becomes 
more apparent. As old agencies are confronted by newer agencies, 
functions shift and adjustments are required. There is a moving 
equilibrium that is disturbed by changes in the old agencies or the 
introduction of new ones. 

10. Out of this integration emerges an all pervasive system of com- 
munication from which it is difficult to escape. Each new device provides 
one more channel that has its ultimate focus in the individual. 

[ 216 ] 


11. The tempo of life is speeded, for agencies that facilitate contacts 
engender them. Man becomes dependent upon the new instruments and 
their use becomes a part of routine. 

12. As each agency lengthens the radius and increases the frequency of 
contact at a distance, it also makes possible an increased frequency of 
local contacts. Where is the change relatively greatest? The balance 
between these cannot be stated. On the one hand are the forces seeming 
to make for standardization, and on the other, those perhaps tending to 
enhance localisms. The two processes may proceed together; in externals 
there may be a cultural levelling, while inwardly old traditions, attitudes 
and beliefs may gain reinforcement through mutual interaction. Overt 
likeness does not guarantee subjective similarity. 

In short, an interconnecting, interconnected web of communication 
lines has been woven about the individual. It has transformed his behavior 
and his attitudes no less than it has transformed social organization itself. 
The web has developed largely without plan or aim. The integration has 
been in consequence of competitive forces, not social desirability. In this 
competition the destruction of old and established agencies is threatened. 

Admittedly the picture which has been drawn here is schematic and 
incomplete. The agencies which have been discussed are not isolated 
entities; to an extent greater than it has been possible to show, they are 
interrelated; moreover, many have necessarily been omitted. Informal 
types of communication especially conversations, committee procedures 
and gossip for example have been slighted. Even so, there emerges a 
picture of tremendous, interacting changes within the period of a single 
generation which have transformed the individual's conception of the 
world by virtue of bringing it, and other human beings, closer to him. 



E^KING men, materials and technology is the economic organiza- 
tion another factor of social change which helps to determine 
our material culture and precipitates mechanical inventions, just 
as inventions in turn carry with them social consequences and stimulate 
social discoveries. 

Especially in a period of business depression, economic problems come 
up for review. In the present chapter are shown some of the gaps between 
social inventions and their adaptation, the huge and uncalculated con- 
sequences of the World War, the movements of prices, the distribution 
of income and the growth of wealth, the productivity of industry, the 
scale of industrial operations, business combinations and mergers, changes 
in banking and the credit structure, and the problems arising within 
business itself and in the relations between business and government. 

The perspective is short for the detection of events which may have 
continuing and far reaching effects; older tendencies and forces may still 
be operative and because they are familiar they may obscure the new 
conditions which are making obsolete current institutions and thought. 
The task of the economic interpreter at the present time is particularly 
difficult. He can trace the outstanding features of the economic develop- 
ment of the United States since 1914; the prosperity of the war period; 
the hectic spurt after the brief pause of 1919; the crisis of 1920-1921; 
the resumption of marked business activity stretching from 1922 to 1929, 
with two minor recessions in 1924 and 1927 and with certain lagging 
elements; the feverish speculation in securities and real estate which 
collapsed at the close of 1929. 

But the normal recession of a business cycle beginning in 1929 has, 
contrary to expectations, been prolonged into a depression of exceptional 
magnitude. The usual phenomena of the business cycle have obviously 
been reinforced by long time trends which must be traced back to the 
period of the war or before and to post-war developments both inside and 

1 The material on banking and prices was prepared for this chapter by B. H. Beckhart 
of Columbia University. Unpublished materials in the files of the National Bureau of 
Economic Research and Economic Tendencies, by Frederick C. Mills, National Bureau of 
Economic Research, were drawn upon heavily, particularly for data on production, banking, 
merchandising and consumers' credit. 

[ 218 ] 


outside of the United States. Major structural changes in the national 
and in the world economy seem to be in operation. Statistical investiga- 
tion may not be able to determine with any precision the dimensions and 
weight of these changes, partly because, though measurable, the data 
are not adequately available, and partly because they are too numerous 
to separate and measure. Even with such aids as the price series which the 
statisticians of a number of countries have been compiling, the experts 
cannot be sure that the gradual downward tendency in the commodity 
price level for the past decade is the precursor of a long secular downward 
trend, or that the decline in prices since 1929 represents the descent to 
lower levels likely to persist for a long stretch of years. The indications 
seem to point to such a trend as one of several underlying factors, yet 
further observation for a succession of years will be necessary to establish 
the certainty of a movement which W. Stanley Jevons, seventy years ago, 
described as "insidious, slow and imperceptible." If, with all the elaborate 
technique of modern statistical science, the fundamentals for an analysis 
of the price and monetary element in the problem are still obscure, the 
investigator is left helpless in evaluating current psychological elements 
such as the widespread and continued post-war nervousness of the 
European investor which has been one responsible factor in throwing out 
of gear the gold flow of the international exchanges. But although any 
comprehensive economic survey of the post-war period must suffer 
from the difficulty of distinguishing permanent from temporary forces, 
it is still possible to indicate some of the outstanding changes of the period 
which affect the economic organization and the social outlook of the 
United States. 

Some of the economic developments of this period are continuations of 
old tendencies which have been accelerated or intensified by the vast 
economic disturbances generated by the war. The changing position of the 
United States as a producer of raw materials; the relative decline of 
agriculture and the expansion of industry, trade and transportation; and 
even, perhaps, the slackening rate of population growth were trends 
discernable in this country during many past generations. Under the 
impact of the powerful economic and political forces of the last fifteen 
years the flow of immigrant labor into the United States was brought 
under control; the decline of agriculture and the increase of non-agri- 
cultural enterprises were accelerated; and the place of the United States 
in the world economy radically transformed. 

No longer does the United States have "illimitable" forests and 
unplowed prairies. At the turn of the century the area of fertile land open 
freely for settlement was visibly dwindling. With one last expansion 
into the dry farming land of the Great Plains region, under the impulse 
of the food demand of the World War and with an improved technique of 

[ 219 ] 


cultivating and harvesting, the first book of American history was closed. 
Public recognition of the change came first under Roosevelt with the 
conservation of western forest areas and the beginning of desert reclama- 
tion by irrigation. The forest conservation movement is passing eastward 
into the hands of the states, which must also in certain areas assist in 
meeting the problem of soil erosion. The irrigation enterprises, pro- 
jected under the century old urge for more land, have gradually been 
checked by the realization that capital and special training are required 
for irrigation farming and that for the time being the pressure for new 
land area is receding. The great period of extensive cultivation has 
definitely drawn to an end and the country's basic industry faces a 
radical readjustment. 

The United States still holds an unrivalled control of natural resources, 
essential for the development of large scale industrialism. Its nine hundred 
and eighty million acres of farm land, a large proportion of which is 
not yet intensively utilized, and its great resources of minerals, notably 
of coal and iron, assure its future as an economic power. But there are 
unmistakable signs that it is gradually losing its position among the 
great raw material supply countries of the world where its rank was 
foremost in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. It still leads 
in some of its old staple exports such as cotton, tobacco and pork, but 
with a slowly sinking percentage of total world exports. In the exports 
of wheat it has fallen behind Canada and Argentina. Its imports of crude 
petroleum and copper ore are increasing. Agricultural products composed 
over 80 percent of the total exports of the United States in the five 
year period 1876-1880; they have fallen to less than half that proportion 
during the years since the war. The increasing industrialization of the 
country is absorbing a steadily larger share of the raw products, leaving 
a diminishing surplus for exportation. 2 

The realization that the natural resources of the United States are 
not without limits and that the frontier with its lavish grants of free 
land has disappeared was influential in bringing about one of the most 
striking reversals of traditional American policy of the post-war period. 
Other factors, such as the "lump of labor" theory nationally magnified 
and the difficulties of union organization and social assimilation, played 
a steadily increasing part in bringing about the severe restriction of 
immigration, which was finally made effective by the Emergency Quota 
Acts of 1921 and 1922 and the Immigration Act of 1924. But it was not 
until a marked change in the racial character of the immigration and its 
shift from the farm to the factory had been observed that the agitation 
for restriction was translated into an investigation by the Immigration 

2 For discussion of trends in land utilization and depletion of natural resources, see 
Chap. II. 

f 220 1 


Commission of 1907 leading to the successive Congressional measures 
and the final drastic legislation. 3 

It is not possible to estimate the full effects of this restriction as 
yet. Part of the needs of industry have been met by internal migration, 
by tapping supplies of labor from the farm and by the flow into industry of 
Negroes and women. Immigration has also continued from the self-^ 
governing countries of the North American continent. Whether the net 
reduction in the labor supply has been a notable factor in lifting the wage 
level and in stimulating the remarkable increase in mechanization in 
recent years is difficult to determine. A competent student of the problem 4 
believes that a prevailing tendency toward mechanization, long marked 
in American industry, was intensified by the war, which effectively closed 
the Atlantic to the movement of immigration, and by the post-war 
restrictions. But the steady decline in the demand for labor, due first to 
the general introduction of machinery between 1922 and 1929 and 
thereafter to the effects of deep business depression, make it almost 
impossible to estimate the influence of immigration restriction on working 
conditions and the retardation in the rate of population increase. The 
most that can be said is that the declining birth rate and reduced immigra- 
tion may, with the resumption of normal business conditions, involve a 
slower rate of industrial growth than we have had in the past and perhaps 
also higher average standards of wages and hence of living. 5 


The World War has been the dominant influence on the economic 
life of the United States since 1914. Although the major consequences 
of the war appeared to many students of economic trends to have ended 
with the resolution of the depression of 1921, subsequent events have 
made it clear that the forces set in motion during the war years are 
still powerful factors in directing the currents of contemporary economic 
affairs and problems throughout the world. The effects of the war in this 
regard are manifold. But their general nature is reasonably clear; and 
no sound comprehension of the economic tendencies in this country during 
the past fifteen years is possible without an appreciation of the funda- 
mental impact of war economy. 

In a sense the three periods of business activity and prosperity in 
the United States from 1915 to 1918, 1919 to 1920 and 1922 to 1929 had 
their roots in conditions produced directly and indirectly by the war. Dur- 
ing the earlier period, business depression was converted into recovery 
by the flood of orders from European warring countries and later ex- 

3 For a discussion of immigration laws, see Chap. XI. 

4 Jerome, H., American Economic Review, Supplement, March, 1927, vol. XVII, p. 128. 
6 For estimates of future population, see Chap. I. 

[ 221 ] 


panded by the vast purchases of war materials and equipment for the 
American military machine. This combination of new foreign and 
domestic purchasing power was more than enough to raise and sustain 
industrial and business activity at abnormal levels. The withdrawal of 
some 5,000,000 men from employment into the armed forces of the 
country at the same time that the dangers of overseas travel cut off the 
supply of immigrant labor, opened wide opportunities for full employ- 
ment to the native population, and in the United States, as elsewhere, 
rising wages and unusually full employment contributed to substantial 
increases in the income of large sections of the population. 

The first period of post-war prosperity was of short duration, lasting 
only from the spring of 1919 to the middle of 1920. But it represented a 
business boom of extraordinary proportions. Prices ascended to fantastic 
heights; the volume of bank credit expanded; industrial activity rose 
in all branches of industry; wages were increased and hours reduced at 
rates much more rapid than during the war years themselves; the millions 
released from the army and war industries were reabsorbed into peace 
industries without apparent difficulty; and the corporations and busi- 
nesses of the country reaped substantial benefits in the form of huge 
profits and increasing corporate surpluses. It is unfortunately still 
impossible completely to account for the origins of such a phenomenon. 
It was in part due to the enhanced civilian demands of disbanded soldiers 
and to the replenishment of stocks of peace time goods. But, however 
important these factors may have been, there can be little doubt that the 
continued expansion of credit on the foundation of an unprecedented 
public war debt constituted a stimulus to business expansion which 
should not be underestimated. 

Good business during the years 1922-1929 was likewise not of simple 
origin. To a considerable extent it represented recovery from the severe 
business depression of 1921. But to an even greater degree this period 
felt the influence of forces arising out of the war. Elements in the post- 
war business situation of this country reflected the new commercial 
relations between the United States and Europe and developments 
within the American domestic market. The requirements for the economic 
reconstruction of Europe meant, in the first instance, a large demand for 
American products. The rise of the United States in the years since the 
war as the most important creditor nation of the world, presumably 
supplied with inexhaustible funds of credit for foreign investment, 
combined with a willingness to lend freely to the countries of Europe 
and other continents, led to extensive foreign loans and to the use of the 
proceeds of these loans for the purchase of the goods of American pro- 
ducers. This potent stimulus to business from abroad was supplemented 
in the United States by equally powerful forces from two sources. The 

[ 222 ] 


first was the enormous increase in the volume of construction, initially 
originating in the normal process of making up the shortage in building 
occasioned by war embargoes on private construction and later flowering 
into a vast speculative boom; 6 and the second was the swift growth of 
so-called new industries, whose development involved not only the 
current production of automobiles, petroleum, electrical equipment 
and the like but, more important, large capital expenditures for the 
construction of plant, equipment and roads. In both instances, moreover, 
the abnormal expansion in the volume of consumers' credit, incurred 
for the purchase of mortgages and houses and for the new products of 
industry, created an unstable and impermanent source of purchasing 
power and of capital funds. 7 

This high prosperity of the United States in the post-war years 
was, however, not shared by agriculture. 8 Some time before the present 
depression the state of American agriculture had begun to illustrate the 
instabilities of the world economy through the decline in agricultural 
prices, the decrease in the value of farm property and the persistence of 
a large burden of farm debt incurred when both the prices of farm 
property and of agricultural products were at much higher levels. 9 
It is indeed not unlikely that the standard of living of the American 
farmer in the post-war era was in part sustained by the proceeds of 
mortgage debt which he found it increasingly difficult to liquidate. 
The existence of this condition of agricultural depression was confirmed 
by the steady and increasing number of bank failures in the rural areas 
which long antedated the wave of suspension of city banks occasioned 
by the business depression of 1930. 10 

Throughout the whole of the war and post-war period, also, a funda- 
mental change took place in the character and magnitude of the current 
expenditures and borrowings of both local and federal governments in the 
United States. The effect of this increase in spending and in debt was not 
only to increase the burden of taxation, but to lift the problem of govern- 
ment fiscal policy to a place of first importance in the total economic 
policy of the country. 11 In common with most countries of the world, 
the government of the United States has had as its major war and post- 
war preoccupations the problem of war financing and since 1920 the 
more difficult problem of reducing an abnormal public debt and of adjust- 
ing the current expenditures of government to new conditions. With the 

6 For figures on building construction, see Chap. IX. 

7 See below, p. 256. 

8 For a fuller discussion of agriculture see Chaps. II and X. 

9 President's Conference on Unemployment, Recent Economic Changes, New York, 
1929, vol. I, pp. 70-76. 

10 See below, pp. 261-262. 

11 On governmental expenditures, see Chaps. XXV and XXVI. 

[ 223 ] 


precipitate drop in the price level and the contraction in trade since 1929, 
at the same time that the demands on the federal government for the 
relief of business and unemployment have constantly increased, both the 
burden of taxation and the issue of debt control have become the most 
significant and most troublesome of our contemporary economic prob- 
lems. How radical a transformation in public finance was effected by the 
war is illustrated in the following tabulation of the ordinary expenditures 
and public debt of the federal government since the beginning of the 
war: 12 

Year ending June 80 

Total expenditures of the 
federal government 
(billions of dollars) 

As of June 30 

Gross debt of the federal 
government (billions of 




1 2 


12 7 




18 5 




3 8 


16 8 








When the figures for the year ending June 30, 1932 become available, 
they will show a substantial increase over the preceding year. While the 
local governments of the country were not burdefied with direct war 
expenditures to the same degree, their expenses and debts rose under the 
influence of example and the combination of rising prices and good busi- 
ness. After fifteen years, therefore, the current outlay of the federal 
government is more than six times the pre-war; the national debt has 
grown nearly twenty-fold; and the price level is approximately where 
it was in 1914. 

Expansion in public credit was accompanied by an increase in the 
volume of private credit and by an unprecedented development in the 
extension of American credit to the governments and private industries 
of foreign countries. War loans to Europe and the private credits em- 
ployed in the reconstruction of post-war Europe, each in their own way 
contributed to revise, if not to end, the isolated position of the United 
States in the world economy and precipitated that range of problems 
with respect to reparations, inter-allied debts and the relation of private 
to public foreign debts which is calculated finally to produce a basic 
transformation in our economic thinking. Within an economic situation 
of this character, trends in banking and in credit extension in the United 
States, markedly affected by the necessities and policies of war finance, 

12 Data from U. S. Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, Statistical Abstract of 
the United States, 1931, pp. 173 and 216. 



helped to produce that instability in our financial institutions which has 
played such havoc with our economic life since the beginning of the last 

The years since 1914, then, are marked by swift and fundamental 
adjustment from a peace to a war economy and then back to a peace 
economy again; by continuing prosperity for fifteen years, briefly inter- 
rupted in 1918, 1924 and 1927 and halted for more than a year in 1921; 
by the conversion of the United States from a debtor to a creditor 
country, sending a huge fund of credit abroad in little more than a decade; 
and by the imposition of severe strains upon our instruments of banking 
and public finance. The exciting succession of events beginning with the 
war and the rapidity and magnitude of the adjustments made by all 
economic institutions in this short space of time undoubtedly stimulated 
the speculative fevers which rose and fell time and again during the period 
and which at last culminated in the disastrous stock market and real 
estate booms of the late twenties. 


The problems generated by large and frequent fluctuations in the 
levels of prices are well known in economic history. Disturbances in the 
established relationship between creditor and debtor, employer and 
employee, agricultural and industrial producers; the passage from high 
activity to deep depression; and troublesome uncertainties as to the 
future with their effects on business judgments and policies, are all 
accompaniments of frequent and drastic movements in the prices of 
commodities and of the variety of forms of tangible and intangible 
property. Whether they are the cause or effect of general business condi- 
tions, it is clear that violent fluctuations in prices were characteristic of 
the period since 1914. Three periods of more than ordinary rising prices 
and two of most severe decline, broken by a comparatively steady level 
of commodity prices between 1924 and 1929, punctuated the business 
history of this country during the last fifteen years. 



Index number of whole- 
sale prices 
(1926 av. = 100) 

Index numbers of the cost 
of living* 
(1923 = 100) 

Average prices per share 
of common stocks' (in 

1913 (av. for year) 
1918 (November) 
Percent change 





U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

6 National Industrial Conference Board. 

New York Times, Average Price in Dollars of 25 Industrial Stocks. 

* July, 1914. 

[ 225 ] 


Under the influence of war conditions, wholesale prices almost doubled 
in five years, the cost of living rose by more than 60 per cent and the 
prices of common stock advanced 45 percent. 

After only a slight break in prices following the cessation of hostilities, 
prices of all kinds started up again from the very high levels they had 
reached in 1918 and by May, 1920, when the top was touched, wholesale 
prices had advanced another 29 percent, the cost of living 26.4 percent 
and stock prices 38.7 percent. 


Wholesale prices" 
(1926 av. = 100) 

Cost of living* 
(1923 = 100) 

Common stock prices 8 
(1926 = 100) 







February, 1919 


March, 1919 


December, 1918 


May 1920 

July, 1920 
Percent change 

Oct, 1919 
Percent change 

Percent change 

a U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

6 National Industrial Conference Board. 

Standard Statistics Co. (351 industrial stocks). 

The next major movement in prices was downward and occurred dur- 
ing the long and severe liquidation of business and industrial depression, 
dating roughly from the middle of 1920 to the early part of 1922. The 
magnitude of the fall in prices in this period is shown in Table 3. 

TABLE 3. HIGH AND Low PRICES, 1920-1922 

Wholesale prices 
(1926 av. = 100) 

Cost of living 6 
(1923 = 100) 

Common stock pric 
(1926 = 100) 

es c 







May, 1920 


July, 1920 


October, 1919 

82 5 

January, 1922 

91 4 

August 1922 

96 3 

August 1921 

46 5 

Percent change 

45 3 

22 1 

43 7 

U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

6 National Industrial Conference Board. 

" Standard Statistics Co. 

Recovery from the depression was accompanied by the recovery of 
prices but not of sufficient extent to raise them again to the levels of 1919 
and 1920. Wholesale prices had risen some 14 percent by March, 1923, 
and the prices of common stock by nearly 40 percent. The decline in 

[ 226 ] 


business in 1924 brought all prices down once more, but this time only 
moderately; and thereafter until 1929, the wholesale prices of com- 
modities and the prices of common stock pursued a different course/ At 
the same time that the wholesale prices were fluctuating within exceed- 
ingly narrow limits, stock prices were rising to new and unprecedented 
heights. Thus between 1924 and 1929 when there was only a slight 
increase in the average of wholesale prices, common stocks recorded more 
than a threefold rise in their average price. 


STOCKS, 1924-1929 


prices (average 
for month) 
(1926 av. = 

Common stock 
prices 6 (average 
for month) 
(1926 = 100) 


prices (average 
for month) 
(1926 av. = 

Common stock 
prices 6 (average 
for month) 
(1926 = 100) 

June 1924 

94 9 

65 6 

June 1928 

97 6 

148 2 

June, 1925 



June, 1929 



June, 1926 



September, 1929. 



June, 1927 



U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 
6 Standard Statistics Co. 

The final period of price change in the years under discussion was, 
like that of 1921, one of precipitate and large decline. Beginning in 1929 
this drastic fall in the price level is now in its third year and is, in June 
1932, not yet arrested. The prices of all types of commodities and saleable 
property, while not equally affected, 13 have suffered from this prolonged 
revision in the general price level. 



Wholesale prices 
(1926 av. = 100) 

Cost of living* 
(1923 = 100) 

Common stock prices 
(1926 = 100) 

September, 1929 
March, 1932 


79 6 

53 8 

Percent change 

-32. S 



U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

6 National Industrial Conference Board. 

Standard Statistics Co. 

It is clear from this exhibit that price movements of such frequency 
and amplitude must have had a profound, if not a determining, influence 
not only on the course of business but on developments in economic and 

13 For data on net per capita output of selected commodities in 1929 and 1931, see 
Chap. XVII. 

[ 227 ] 


social practice and thought. Adjustment to wide price fluctuations, 
whether they lead to prosperity or depression, involve widespread 
ramifications and are the substance of many of the economic problems 
associated with existing economic systems. Disparities in the move- 
ment among the multitudinous prices of advanced business communities 
account for the major difficulties of the agricultural problem of the past 
ten years, for the struggle to raise wages as fast as the cost of living 
during the war and early post-war years, for the contemporary conflict 
between creditor and debtor classes, and perhaps for the prolongation 
of the present depression, the persistence of which, in the opinion of many 
students of the problem, is attributable to the failure of some prices, such 
as those of fabricated goods and of commodities sold at retail, to decline 
at anything like the rate characteristic of the prices of raw materials 
and of agricultural products. 14 So far, finally, as the present fall in prices 
is concerned, it has already had dire consequences in stagnant business, 
in universal unemployment and in drastic reductions in the standard of 
living. 15 The continuance of the decline for any appreciable length of 
time may even more fundamentally revolutionize our conceptions of 
the adequacy of existing standards of life and of existing social controls 
over the activities of private business. 


The sustained activity of industry in the United States during 
the war and the majority of the post-war years has led many to believe 
that the income of the people of the United States has, since 1914, 
ascended to new and higher levels, substantially greater than those 
prevailing before the war. The measurement of national income even in 
ordinary times is a formidable task. The conception of national income is 
not a simple one, since the statistical measure so designated is a com- 
posite of various types of income not all susceptible of equally clear 
and acceptable definition. The measurement, therefore, of more or less 
indefinable elements leaves considerable latitude for broad estimate and 
difference of opinion. In periods of appreciable price changes these prob- 
lems of measuring real income are multiplied many times by reason of 
the unavoidable difficulty encountered in constructing satisfactory index 
numbers of the purchasing power of the dollar. Under the circumstances 
it is essential to employ elaborate estimates of national income with 
extreme caution and to compare them with indexes of the physical output 

14 A full discussion of this phase of the price situation will be found in a book by 
Frederick C. Mills, on pre-war and post-war economic changes, Economic Tendencies, Chap 
VI, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, New York, 1932. 

15 See Chap. XVI. 

16 Compare with discussion of income in Chap. XVII. 

[ 228 1 


of industry, of the volume of employment and the like, before coming to 
final conclusions as to the trend of conditions. 

Estimates of the national income in the United States have for many 
years been made by Willford I. King. His latest estimates, which carry 
the series through 1928, are shown in Table 6. The estimates, expressed 




Millions of 
current dollars 

Millions of 
1913 dollars 


Millions of 
current dollars 

Millions of 
1913 dollars 














43 288 






51 331 





















*89,41 9 





King, W. I., The National Income and Its Purchasing Power, National Bureau of Economic Research, New 
York, 1930, pp. 74, 77. 
6 Preliminary estimate. 

in current dollars, reflect the influence of price. When the two columns 
are compared in the years 1919 and 1920, an increase in the national 
income of substantially eight billions shrinks, after correction is made for 
the rising price level, to an actual decline of some five hundred millions. 
But even in the measure reduced to 1913 dollars, the post-war years 
register somewhat larger increases than the pre-war. How great the differ- 
ence in the rate of increase of the national income has been may be seen 
from the following tabulation of changes in the per capita realized income 
in terms of 1913 dollars. 17 Since final estimates of the national income 


Percent increase in per 
capita realized income 
(in 1913 dollars) 


Percent increase in per 
capita realized income 
(in 1913 dollars) 

1909 to 1913 

6 4 

1919 to 1923 


1914 to 1918 

8 1 

1924 to 1928 


require the use of a multiplicity of series, many of which are published 
some years after the event, the estimates are not yet carried beyond 1928. 
Highly tentative estimates for 1929, however, show an increase over the 
preceding year of more than 3 billion dollars. These figures obviously con- 
firm the common impression that national income has increased since the 
war at a rate faster than during the pre-war years. Precise estimates of the 

17 Computed from King, op. cit., p. 87. 

[ 229 ] 


course of national income since 1929 are at this time impossible to make, 
but comprehensive data on the decline in wages and salaries during 1930 
and 1931, and less exhaustive data for the first half of 1932, indicate that 
the drop in the national income in 1930, 1931 and in all probability in 
1932, will far exceed the drastic decline of 1921. 18 

How far the rise in total national income since 1914 has produced a 
more equal distribution of it, it is hard, if not impossible, to tell. Since 
the study by Frederick R. Macaulay 19 of the distribution of personal 
incomes in the United States in 1918, no investigation of the problem of 
equal value has been made. Although the national income had by 1918 
measurably increased because of large production and generally good 
business, Macaulay's study revealed gross inequalities in income in that 
year, presumably little different from those prevailing in the years before. 
Estimates of the total share of employees in the national income, however, 
show a decided increase in the proportion received in wages and salaries 
in the years following 1917. 



Percent of national income com- 
prised by wages, salaries, pen- 
sions, compensation, etc. 


Percent of national income com- 
prised by wages, salaries, pen- 
sions, compensation, etc. 


51 9 


57 2 




57 7 


51 9 

1924 . . . 

57 7 


50 3 


57 2 





58 8 


57 1 


58 9 


57 1 

Computed from King, op. cit., p. 74. 

In view of the opinion, prevalent in this and other countries during 
the past years, that one probable cause of the present depression was the 
excessive construction of plant and equipment due to the diversion of an 
increasing proportion of the income of industry into profits and overhead, 
King's findings are surprising. An adequate test of this hypothesis and 
of the income data would require elaborate and long investigation. It is 
pertinent to point out, however, that measures of physical output during 
the post-war years show a marked increase in the production of capital 
goods; and in the manufacturing industries, the share of wages alone or 
of wages and salaries combined in the total value added by manufacture 

18 See Chap. XVI. 

19 Income in the United States, Its Amount and Distribution, 1909-1919, National Bureau 
of Economic Research, New York, 1921, vol. II, chap. 30. 

f 230 1 


has declined substantially since 1923. Except in 1921, when, as in all 
years of severe depression, wages, although much less in absolute amount, 
were an exceptionally high percentage of total value added, the percent- 
age for wages alone varied only slightly from 1899 to 1923, but fell very 
rapidly between 1923 and 1929. The percentage for wages and salaries 
combined had a decided upward trend from 1899 to 1914, little change 
from 1914 to 1923 (except in 1921) and a considerable downward move- 
ment during the last six years. 




Wages and 
salaries 6 

and return 
to capital 



Wages and 
salaries 6 

and return 
to capital 


















42 2 

53 8 

46 2 

1929 e 

37 2 

48 6 

51 4 

a U. S. Bureau of the Census, Census of Manufactures (biennial). 

6 The percentages for 1923 to 1929 would be slightly higher if central office salaries were included, but these 
are more akin to overhead. 
c Adjusted. 

Estimates of the size and distribution of the wealth of a country 
are if anything more difficult to make than estimates of national income. 
Aside from the confusion arising out of the factor of changes in prices, 
estimates of wealth involve the valuation of an infinite variety of prop- 
erty subject to multifarious market conditions and, in some instances, not 
marketable at all. If the wealth of the United States be regarded as the 
capacity of its industry and agriculture to produce goods, of its buildings 
to house its inhabitants and its industry, then the wealth of the United 
States has experienced a vast increase in the past several decades. Meas- 
ured in terms of prices, however, indexes of wealth reflect price fluc- 
tuations, changes in the assessed valuation of real property, varying farm 
values and the like. Estimates of this type, obtained by interpolations 
and extrapolations from the decennial censuses of Wealth, Debt and 
Taxation have been made by the National Industrial Conference Board. 
They show that the total wealth of the United States had increased two 
and one half fold, or from 192 to 489 billions, between 1914 and 1920. 
Even with the decline in the price level since 1920 the estimated wealth 
stood at 362 billions of dollars in 1929. 20 On the distribution of wealth, 
we are even more in the dark. In spite of the deliberate attempts to 

20 National Industrial Conference Board, "National Wealth and National Income," 
Conference Board Bulletin, February 20, 1932, no. 62, p. 495. 

[ 231 1 


promote the wider diffusion of ownership, there is little evidence that 
any radical change in the distribution of wealth has taken place in this 
country during the past several decades. 21 


At least some of the obscurity which surrounds the changes in the 
national income is removed by recent inquiries into the course of the 
physical output of American industry and agriculture. As in the case of a 
growing number of economic statistical series, the adequate measurement 
of physical product is a comparatively recent innovation in statistical 
practice, being little more than ten years old. An elaborate study of 
contrasting economic developments in the United States during the pre- 
war period 1901-1913, and the post-war years 1922-1929, made by 
Frederick C. Mills for the National Bureau of Economic Research, has 
yielded measures of changes in total physical production and in the 
physical output of important component products which constitute the 
material for the discussion in this section. 22 

The combined physical production of agriculture and of the manu- 
facturing, mining and construction industries increased 34 percent from 
to 1929, as is shown in the following index numbers from Mills: 

1922. . 

1923. . 


1925 118 

1926 125 

1927.. . 124 


.. 130 
. 134 

The advance in output was steady throughout the period and even in 
the recession years, 1924 and 1927, the decline was surprisingly small. 
Much more important, however, is the comparison between the rate of 
increase in physical output in the pre-war and post-war periods. Per 
capita output, reflecting the retardation in the rate of population growth, 
as well as the rise in production, advanced twice as fast in the later years 
as in the earlier, as is indicated by the average annual rate of increase. 23 


Volume of production 


Per capita production 


+3 1 

+2 1 

+1 1 


+8 8 

+1 4 

+2 4 

So drastic a change in the pace of industry must necessarily have involved 
significant consequences in the banking, investment and business policy 

31 See report of Federal Trade Commission, National Wealth and Income, U. S. Sen. 
Doc., no. 126, 69th Congress, 1st session, 1926. 
M See Mills, op. cit. 
23 Mills, op. cit. 

[ 232 ] 


of the country and may, indeed, furnish a useful clue to the reasons for 
the severe decline in production which has continued since 1929. 

Evidence contained in the measures of important component series 
of the total index of production supports the conclusion that the produc- 
tion of capital goods in the post-war years rose much more rapidly than 
the output of commodities designed for direct consumption. While the 
greatest disparity in output exists between the production of consumption 
goods and machinery, the supply of transportation equipment remains 
consistently higher than that of consumption products in each of the 
years, except 1928, and non-residential construction, including the capital 
expenditures of governments, outstrips consumers' goods in the last four 
years of the period. 


INDEX NUMBERS, 1922-1929 

(1922 = 100) 


Consumption goods 
(including residential 







































Mills, op. ciL 

Probably the most striking and unusual developments in production 
since the war are to be found in the divergencies in output among various 
categories of goods purchased and used by the ultimate consumer. 24 
The great expansion in the automobile and electrical industries had far 
reaching effects in diverting the consumers' purchasing power from old to 
new products and placing in the hands of consumers stocks of durable 
products which have a slow rate of obsolescence and which, consequently, 
need to be replaced only after the lapse of considerable intervals of time. 
The effects of the widespread substitution of such durable goods for the 
perishable and semi-perishable commodities which before accounted for a 
larger share of the oridinary consumer's expenditures are unquestionably 
being felt during the current depression in the form of an exceedingly low 
replacement demand for such products. The sharp contrast between the 
output of the new and the old products is shown in Table 10. The differ- 
ence between the increase of 72 percent in the production of durable goods 

24 See discussion of consumers' goods given in Chap. XVII. 

f 233 1 


and the increase of less than 15 percent in the production of the staple 
articles of consumption explains the depressed state of the staple indus- 
tries during many of the prosperous post-war years. 



(1922 = 100) 


Durable con- 



sumption goods 6 




Boots and shoes 

















































Mills, op. cit. 

b Includes automobiles, furniture, electrical equipment, carpets, mattresses, radios, phonographs and pianos. 

So far as physical production is concerned, the "new era" was char- 
acterized by an accelerated rate of total output; by the more rapid expan- 
sion in the production of plant and equipment than of consumers' goods; 
by an unprecedented rise in the output of durable consumption goods; 
and by a substantial lag in the output of the staples, food, textile and 
leather products. Since 1929 this trend in physical output has, of course, 
been entirely reversed. By 1931 manufacturing output was 25 percent 
below 1929; the production of minerals had fallen by substantially the 
same amount. Automobile production in 1931 was less than half that of 
1929; and the decline in both construction and in the manufacture of 
capital equipment far exceeded the drop in the general level of physical 

Mechanization. The high level of per capita physical output in 
the United States from 1922 to the turn of business in 1929 was accom- 
panied, if indeed it was not made possible, by an unusual increase in the 
productivity of labor. By reason of scientific invention and the mechaniza- 
tion resulting from the application of invention to industrial processes, 25 
and also as the result of vast improvements in the methods of factory 
management, the output of labor in many industries rose so rapidly as to 
make the phenomenon of technological unemployment one of the most 
pressing of the economic and social problems of the post-war decade. 
While various measures of the productivity of labor differ considerably 

26 On production inventions, see Chap. III. 

[ 234 1 


in detail, there is little reason to doubt that the advances in productivity 
since 1923 surpass the experience of similar earlier periods of which we 
have any adequate record. Between 1899 and 1909 the output per worker 
in agriculture increased 6 percent; in mining 13 percent; in manufacturing 
7 percent; and in rail transportation 14 percent. 26 Between 1923 and 1929, 
a much shorter period, the productivity of manufacturing labor increased 
22 percent; 27 from 1920 to 1929 output per service hour of railway em- 
ployees rose 22 percent; 28 and from 1919 to 1929 the production per man 
per day of bituminous coal miners increased 30 percent. 29 In confirmation 
of this acceleration in the advancing rate of output of labor, it is necessary 
only to point to the huge developments in the consumption of energy in 
the United States in comparatively recent years. 30 

The advance in mechanization has been made possible not only by the 
invention and wide spread adoption of new and more efficient machinery 
for the making and moving of material, but also by a marked increase and 
refinement of the methods of standardization, by a wider recognition and 
utilization of scientific research and by a broad acceptance of the prin- 
ciples underlying what F. W. Taylor called the science of management. 31 

Standardization and that application of its general practice, inter- 
changeability of parts, are basic for quantity production at low unit cost. 
The principle is not new; the Dutch shipbuilders of the late 17th century 
excelled in cheapness and rapidity of ship construction by using essen- 
tially the same method as that adopted in the recent war-time production 
of fabricated ships; Mandelay in England and Eli Whitney in the United 
States at the beginning of the 19th century were exploiting the use of 
machine tooled, interchangeable parts for relatively large scale produc- 
tion. The application of the general principle to processes and products 
is as yet far from its full effectiveness, but it has become an essential 
element in practically all branches of modern American industry and is 
supported and furthered by the agencies of the federal government, such 
as the Bureau of Standards and the Division of Simplified Practice, both 
operating under the Department of Commerce. 

Another factor in this broad movement has been the intensification 
of scientific research. Though the realm of such investigation includes 
the origination of new products and the utilization of wastes, scientific 
research has made outstanding contributions to the mechanization of 
industry. From the leaders in this field, the laboratories of the General 
Electric Company, the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, 

26 Recent Economic Changes, op. ciL, vol. II, pp. 446-462. 

27 Mills, op. cit. 

28 Unpublished data of the National Bureau of Economic Research. 

29 For index number on coal production, see Chap. II. 

30 See Chap. II. 

31 The Principles of Scientific Management, New York and London, 1911. 

[ 235 ] 


the General Motors Company and other concerns which together 
expend many millions of dollars solely on research and experimentation 
have come a series of new devices to economize labor and speed the 
conversion of raw materials into consumable goods. Indeed, one of the 
most promising new developments in American industry since the war 
is the new respect for science even for pure research on the part of 
the business public. In 1927 the National Research Council listed 999 
research agencies, company, joint, consulting and trade association 
laboratories and research services in universities cooperating with 
industries. 32 

From organized research in the physical sciences, American industry 
is gradually beginning to widen its use of scientific research in the field 
of the social sciences. Statistical departments began to be more widely 
organized by industry immediately after the experience of the war; 
this movement was set back temporarily in the depression of 1921, but 
has since been growing. Research is extending into labor management, 
industrial psychology, sales management and advertising. But i the 
next book of American economic history, now opening, it is to be hoped 
that the record will tell of much more scientific intelligence brought to 
bear on the complexities of business problems than has been characteristic 
in the past. 

Though since the war the study of improved methods of management 
has progressed far beyond the scope envisaged before the war by F. W. 
Taylor and is now directed with new emphasis to personnel and to market- 
ing, it has still found its chief field in the improvement of mechanization 
in a broad sense. New methods for " routinizing " industry, such as 
operating budgets and inventory control, have been successfully applied. 
But while the concepts and methods of good management are fairly 
widely diffused and the rank and file of American industrialists are held 
to be more open minded in the exchange of information and in the 
adoption of approved new practices than those of other countries, there 
still remains too wide a spread within industries and between industries. 33 
The stresses and strains of the period since 1921, with great variations in 
the economic pressure on industries and regions, have produced no 
uniformity of good practice. If one of the best informed observers, H. S. 
Dennison, found the management situation "spotty" in 1928, what is 
it likely to be when the country emerges from the depression of more 
recent years? Some, perhaps many, industrialists will have jettisoned 
promising experts and whole personnel departments. The deepening pres- 
sure will necessarily tend to overemphasize economies in the cost of 

32 See H. S. Dennison's survey of "Management" in Recent Economic Changes, op, cit., 
vol. II, p. 499. 

33 Recent Economic Changes, op. cit., vol. II, p. 546. 

[ 236 ] 


production, to exalt process invention at the expense of product inven- 
tion and to neglect those humanizing internal agencies for the better- 
ment of industrial relations which have been so promising a feature of the 
post-war factory system. 

Localization of Industry. The expansion of industry since the war 
and the keen struggle for markets have set up new or intensified regional 
competition. That of southern cotton mills with the older establishments 
of New England dates back to the pre-war era, of course, but since the 
war the dislocation of northern manufacture has become more marked. 
The southern enterprises grew in number and in capacity to handle the 
production of superior goods. Aided by lower wages, by the laxity of 
labor laws especially as regards night work and substantially un- 
trammeled by labor union organizations, they were able to force the 
closing of many northern mills. In some cases this meant the termination 
of institutions generations old; in others it involved the transfer of the 
machinery and the movable sections of the organization to the more 
favorable southern area, leaving unemployed workers behind. In some- 
what similar manner, the shoe manufacturers of Lynn, Haverhill and 
other New England cities have been confronted with increased com- 
petition of shoe production in St. Louis and Minneapolis. Shoe manu- 
facture in New England has even longer traditions than cotton cloth 
production for it dates back to the time when English handicraftsmen 
began the fabrication of footwear in the small Massachusetts towns. 
Its evolution on a factory basis had been slower than that of its sister 
industry, but up to the end of the 19th century it seemed firmly rooted 
in New England soil. In other branches of manufacture, such as steel, 
wood working and heavy chemicals, somewhat comparable shifts are 
to be observed, with the result that industrial activity has become more 
widely dispersed through the United States than ever before. A careful 
study of locational factors for each industry and for each region would 
be required to understand this complex movement. While some industries 
or branches of them are moving closer to the great consuming centers, 
others are moving away. And a continued phase of the zoning process, 
westward and southward, in the movement of the American Industrial 
Revolution is here apparent. 

Although it is impossible to present a complete statistical exhibit 
of the extent and variety of this regional movement in American in- 
dustry, the data on the geographical shift of manufacturing industries 
between 1919 and 1929 throw considerable light on the nature of the 
movement. 34 The large losses in the New England states and the gains 
in the south Atlantic and east south central region roughly measure the 
major shift in the localization of the various divisions of the textile 

34 On the associated population shifts, see Chap. I. 

[ 237 ] 




Geographic division- 

Percent change in 
number of wage 
earners, 1919-1929 

Geographic division 

Percent change in 
number of wage 
earners, 1919-1929 

United States 

1 8 

South Atlantic 

+ 11 6 

East South Central 

+14 8 

New England 

18 7 

West South Central 

+ 44 

Middle Atlantic 



6 2 

East North Central 

+ 6.1 


+ 83 

West North Central 

5 1 

United States Bureau of the Census, Census of Manufactures (biennial). 

industry in this country. Within the regions, moreover, the extent of 
the movement is most striking. Thus while the number of wage earners 
in the Massachusetts manufacturing industry declined 21.9 percent, 
their number increased 33 percent in North Carolina and 28.6 percent in 
Georgia. The growth of industry, measured by the number of wage 
earners, in the east north central states was in large part attributable 
to the development of the automobile industry during this period. For 
while the entire region recorded an increase in wage earners of 6 percent, 
their numbers in Indiana and Michigan rose by 13 percent. 

Under the severe competitive conditions which prevail during a 
long depression characterized by falling prices and continuous efforts 
to reduce cost, the movement from high to low cost areas of production 
is stimulated. Certainly since 1930 producers in the cotton textile, cloth- 
ing, hosiery and shoe industries have taken advantage of more favorable 
labor conditions and lower rents and taxes with the result that a migra- 
tion of major proportions to small towns has in these industries been 
under way for some time. Only, in fact, since the middle of 1931, when 
drastic readjustments in labor and overhead costs and in rents began 
to be made in the larger cities, was this movement from the established 
centers probably arrested. 


The domination of American business by the large corporation 
and the growth in the scale of industrial operations, exemplified in the 
development of methods of mass production, selling and the like, has 
long been an observed tendency in American economic organization. 
Since 1920, partly as the result of the operation of slow traditional forces 
and partly because of factors peculiar to this latest period, the move- 
ment toward the centralization of business control, toward the com- 
bination of business enterprise and toward further increase in the size 
of typical industrial units has received considerable impetus and has 

[ 238 ] 


revealed itself in the creation of formidable new problems in the private 
and social control of business and in the aggravation of old ones. 

Scale of Industrial Operations. Important as a knowledge of the 
size of typical industrial units is for the proper understanding of future 
trends in industrial relations, of the requirements for capital expenditure 
and of the nature of the issues of social control, the facts furnished by 
government agencies on the question are far from illuminating. Data 
published by the United States Census of Manufactures show that rela- 
tively small industrial establishments continue greatly to predominate 
in number and that the average number of wage earners per establish- 
ment increased between 1914 and 1929 by less than two workers per 
establishment. More enlightening as to scale of production are the data 
for the distribution of establishments according to number of employees, 
use of power or value of output. These figures are not yet available for 
the Census of Manufactures of 1929, but the earlier evidence, summarized 
by Willard Thorp, 35 indicates a decided trend toward larger units of 
production. In 1923 the establishments which employed more than 250 
wage earners were less than 4 percent of all establishments but they em- 
ployed over half of the industrial wage earners. Thorp's study of the cen- 
tral offices owning two or more establishments revealed the fact that over 
20,000 establishments, subsidiary to larger manufacturing organizations, 
employed at least one-third of all wage earners in manufacturing. 

The Trend toward Combination. While numerous reasons have 
from time to time been advanced to account for the tendency toward 
business combinations, there can be little doubt that it originates in 
the desire for stability. Particularly during the decade of the 1920's 
and even in the course of the current depression, attempts at consolida- 
tion or understandings or the actual merger of independent business 
units were in the main aimed to limit the vicissitudes and uncertainties 
of uncontrolled competitive business. Efforts directed toward the regula- 
tion of private, competitive business, in earlier periods of American 
history carried on surreptitiously by business men, have now grown 
into ambitious programs, sponsored by many business leaders, for the 
thoroughgoing regulation of private enterprise in the interest of stability 
in operation and regularity in employment. Although it is true that 
private business has by no means demonstrated its capacity to stabilize 
industry and, what is more important, to come to terms with the public 
as to standards of service and price, the fact remains that the goal of 
stability through consolidation and agreement is now more widely 
accepted by business than ever before and that it is destined to play a 
dominant role in affecting the trend and purposes of business organiza- 
tion in the next years. 

35 Recent Economic Changes, op. cit., pp. 168-9. 

f 239 1 


Coupled with the need for stability and certainty is the attempt 
to eliminate waste and reduce costs of operation through consolidation. 
Mergers in the field of retail trade, which are essentially a post-war 
development, were entered into mainly to produce savings in operating 
costs, to eliminate duplication and to reap the benefits from the cen- 
tralized purchase of the products of manufacturers and wholesalers. 
Many of the recent vertical combinations between manufacturer and 
retailer have been designed, therefore, not only to insure the producer 
more stable operations through his control over his outlet, but even more 
to effect savings in selling costs. How much has been accomplished in 
either direction it is impossible to determine at a time when the volume 
of retail business has steadily declined for two years and when both 
wholesale and retail prices have pursued the most erratic courses. The 
logic, however, which promoted the early consolidations in the retail 
industry is now stronger than ever and may be expected to lead to the 
continuance of the combination movement in this field of business 
under conditions more favorable than the present. 

However potent these internal economic reasons for combination 
may have been, it must be admitted that much of the incentive to the 
movement is to be found in the extraordinarily favorable financial con- 
ditions which for ten years facilitated the organization of mammoth 
corporations, the exchange of new securities for old and the raising of 
additional investment funds. The plethora of funds seeking investment 
in the United States between 1923 and 1929, the apparently insatiable 
appetite of the public for securities, the large banking profits involved 
in the flotation of new security issues and the very long duration of 
the period of rising security prices, represented an irresistible com- 
bination of circumstances which hastened, where it did not occasion, 
the gathering together of independent businesses into consolidated 
corporations and other controlling organizations. 

Much of the centralization in the control of business in this period was 
achieved by the outright merger of independent firms and subsequently 
by the unified management of the consolidated company. But in this 
era, as in the past, control was wielded by a variety of indirect methods, 
the most important of which was the holding company. This is an old 
institution in American corporate history but in the past decade it had an 
enormous development, particularly as an instrument of control in the 
public utility business, and also to a lesser but important extent in the 
railway and banking business as well. 

Mergers. The full extent of the merger movement is not recorded. 
A compilation of figures on mergers and acquisitions by Willard Thorp 36 

36 Recent Economic Changes, op. cit., pp. 181-188, and American Economic Review, 
Supplement, March, 1931, vol. XXI, pp. 77-89. 

[ 240 \ 


shows that it is no misnomer to characterize the post-war decade as the 
era of consolidations. The record of over 1,200 mergers in manufacturing 
and mining between 1919 and 1928, involving a net disappearance of 
over 6,000 independent enterprises by the end of 1928 and some 2,000 
more by the end of 1930, is far from a complete record of mergers in all 
fields. Over 4,000 enterprises among public utilities were absorbed in 
the same period before 1929 and nearly 1,800 bank mergers caused the 
disappearance of an unrecorded but probably larger number of banks. 
Many consolidations have taken place in other fields, such as the move- 
ment toward vertical integration in the motion picture industry from 
film producer to chains of theaters, and the development of chains of 
retail stores with their extraordinary increase of sales since the war. To 
meet the new competition in the retail field, the older leaders in large 
scale retailing, the department stores and the great mail order houses, 



Manufacturing and mining 

utilities 6 


Number of 

Number of 

Number of 

Net number 
of concerns 

Number of 












1922 $*/. . m . 






2,673 / 


















3,338 v 







Total 1919-1930 






8,003 v 

Recent Economic Changes, op. cit., p. 184; Willard Thorp, "Persistence of the Merger Movement," American 
Economic Review, Supplement, March, 1931, vol. XXI, pp. 77-89. 

6 Recent Economic Changes, op. cit., p. 187. 

c U. S. Federal Reserve Board, Annual Report, 1927, p. 31. The figures are for the number of mergers affecting 
capital resources of member banks. The number of banks affected is, of course, considerably greater than the 
number of mergers. 

* Estimated after December 10. 

First nine months. 

f 241 ] 


have been changing in structure, the department stores commencing to 
join in chains and the mail order houses themselves to operate retail chain 

Combination in Retail Trade. 37 The business combination move- 
ment, in former periods a feature of the manufacturing and public 
utility industries illustrated by the establishment of the historic con- 
solidations in the oil, steel, packing and telephone industries, in this 
latest era spread rapidly into the areas of merchandising and banking. 
Although the retail chain store and the large mail order houses antedated 
the post-war years, it was only then that the wholesale replacement 
of the independent store by the centrally controlled and managed cor- 
poration took place. Partly in response to the recognition of the existence 
of great wastes arising from duplication in the business of retail mer- 
chandising and partly out of the purely fortuitous circumstances of 


Type of business 

number of 
stores in 

number of 
by chains 

number of 
stores are 
of total 

Total net 
sales of 
all stores 

Total net 
sales of 

store sales 
of total 










3 265 












Apparel . . 

112 960 






Department and dry goods 
General merchandise 







Musical instruments 








26 555 






Consisting of 4 stores and over. 

Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1931, op. cit., pp. 322-34; and U. S. Congress, Sen. Doc., no. 31, 
72d Cong., 1st. Sess., p. 33. 

prospective real estate profits and bankers' gains, the creation of great 
business combinations in retailing spread from one branch of mer- 
chandising to another. By 1930 sectional and national chains were 
transacting practically one-fifth of the total retail trade of the country, 38 
but in many retail fields the proportion was much higher. The disparity 
between the number of stores operated in chains and the volume of their 
business indicates the difference in the average size of unit of the chain 

37 For a discussion of chain stores in relation to consumption, see Chap. XVII. On 
marketing in rural areas, see Chap. X. 

38 United States Bureau of the Census, Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930 Census 
of Distribution, figures cover 1929. 


stores and the independent retail stores. In many instances, also, the 
bulk of the business is carried on by some four or five of the largest 

The importance of these dominating companies and their relative 
stability through much of this severe depression is shown in Table 14. 
While some of the larger chain store companies have had difficulty in 
weathering the storms of the last several years, have effected reorganiza- 
tions by dropping unprofitable units, have in some cases even considered 


Type of business and firm 

Percent change 




9 mos. 

Mail order +15.7 

Sears Roebuck +19 . 

Montgomery Ward +14 . 8 

National Bellas Hess 0.0 

Food +28.1 

Great Atlantic & Pacific +27.8 

Kroger +28.6 

Safeway +48.5 

First National +17 . 7 

MacMarr +30.9 

National Tea +46. 1 

H. C. Bohack +5.8 

Grand Union +6.4 

Daniel Reeves +8.9 

Variety +11-5 

J. C. Penney +16.3 

F. W. Woolworth +5.3 

S. S. Kresge +10.2 

S. H. Kress +12.0 

F. W. Grand-Silver +28.9 

McCrory + 4.5 

W. T. Grant +27.3 

J. J. Newberry +36.8 

Drug +47.2 

Walgreen +50.2 

People's Drug +39. 5 

Restaurants 4.0 

Childs - 8.5 

Waldorf - .4 

Thompson +1.7 

Melville Shoe +26.7 

Western Auto Supply +11 .5 

+ 24.2 

+ 26.2 

+ 24.7 

+ 8.2 

+ 20.1 

+ 8.3 

+ 38.2 

+ 41.8 

+ 10.6 

+ 5.0 

+ 10.3 

+ 15.5 

+ 7.0 

+ 10.8 

+ 18.7 

+ 5.5 

+ 6.1 

+ 5.3 

+ 27.7 

+ 8.8 

+ 18.3 

+ 34.8 

+ 45.5 

+ 48.5 

+ 37.0 

+ 7.3 

+ 4.6 

+ 11.9 

+ 7.9 

+ 13.1 

+ 27.5 


- 6.8 

+ .1 

+ 1.1 

- 6.8 
+ 2.7 
+ .5 
+ 2.5 

- 5.5 
+ 3.2 
+ .7 

- 2.4 

- 8.0 

- 4.5 

- 3.8 
+ 1.2 

- 3.3 
+ 8.3 
+ 8.6 


+ 7.8 

- 4.7 

- 5.7 

- 2.5 

- 5.1 



- 7.4 

- 4.0 

- 2.2 

- 4.6 

- 5.4 

- 2.6 

- 7.4 

- 9.1 

- 3.0 

- 7.9 

- 1.7 

- 9.5 

- .8 

- 1.1 
+ 1.2 

- 1.2 

- .5 
+ 8.3 
+ 5.7 

+ 5.7 
+ 6.1 
+ 4.4 

- 6.6 

- 1.9 

- 5.4 

- 5.8 

- 9.4 

Compiled by Merrill Lynch & Co. and reprinted in various issues of the Commercial and Financial Chron- 
icle. The data are for fiscal years. In several cases the fiscal does not coincide with the calendar year. 

[ 243 ] 


merging with other chains and in still others have been forced to liquidate, 
their financial strength and their ability to buy on favorable terms have 
exposed them to lesser casualties than those suffered by the independent 
retailer. In fact, the growth of the chain stores and their methods of 
doing business encouraged, in the later years of the decade, the organiza- 
tion of voluntary chains, particularly in the grocery trade, which make 
exclusive purchase arrangements with wholesale grocers or with groups 
of them. The American Institute of Food Distribution reported as of 
May 1, 1930 that it had record of 273 of such groups with a total member- 
ship of 34,311 retailers. 39 

Combinations in Banking. The relations of banking to business are 
so universal, intimate and sensitive that developments in the organiza- 
tion and practice of banking possess unusual importance. The very 
large number of banks in the United States, the small size of many of 
them and the deep sectional concern in this country over the independence 
of local banks have for a long time constituted an invitation toward 
centralization in the face of powerful political and economic resistance. 
Since the war the instability of banks in agricultural areas, the vulner- 
ability of the small bank to rapid changes in economic conditions and 
the contagion of the combination movement in other business fields 


Number of branches 


with branches 

In head office city 

Outside head office 

Total branches 



































2 299 





2 525 





2 701 





2 912 














2 299 

1 164 

3 463 

For the years 1900 to 1923 inclusive the figures are not as of any uniform month. For 1924 they are as of 
June, for 1925 and 1926 as of December, and for 1926 to 1931 inclusive they are as of June. These data were 
compiled from unpublished material in the possession of the authors. 

39 See unpublished manuscript by M. T. Copeland on Marketing Factors in the Business 
Recession 1929-1930, National Bureau of Economic Research. 

[ 244 1 


produced a great acceleration in the tendency toward larger banking 
institutions and toward the centralization of control. 

Branch banking has received particular attention in recent years as 
one means of providing a banking system which can effect greater equali- 
zation and more efficient utilization of the credit resources of the country. 
The future trend in banking organization would seem to be in the direc- 
tion of the multiplication of branch banking systems and liberalization 
of the laws respecting them. This conclusion is supported by the great 
rapidity with which branch banking has grown in the past decade. Before 
1921 the movement was confined principally to state banks, but since 
then national banks have expanded in the same way. 

While the smallest independent banks of the country are found in 
the rural areas and towns, branch banking has developed principally in 
the larger cities, where size and prestige as much as safety have been 
important factors in the spirited competition for business which has 
notably characterized American banking since the war. About two-thirds 
of the branches established are located in the city in which the parent 
bank is situated. Over 60 percent of the branch banks are in cities of 
100,000 and over; and the principal branch banking centers are New York 
City and Detroit. Only in the state of California has statewide branch 
banking had any considerable development. 


Population of city 

In head office city 

Outside head office 








Under 500 




14 5 



500 to 1,000 

1 000 to 2,500 



2,500 to 5,000 

5,000 to 10,000 

10 000 to 25 000 

25,000 to 50 000 

50,000 to 100 000 

100,000 and over 







Compiled from unpublished material in the possession of the authors. 

Group and chain banking represents the control over separate institu- 
tions through stock ownership either by individuals or groups of indi- 
viduals or by holding companies. Of the two forms of centralization, chain 
banking is the older, but group banking, essentially holding company 
control, represents at this time the major tendency in American banking. 

f 245 1 


On June 30, 1931, there were in operation in the United States 288 chain 
and group systems, controlling 2,047 banks with aggregate loans and 
investments of $13,600,000,000. These systems covered 10 percent of all 
banks and 31 percent of the loans and investments of all banks in the 
country. 40 Since branch banking is prohibited in many American states and 
restricted in others, group and chain banking has had its greatest growth 
in precisely those states. 41 

Bank mergers and consolidations though perhaps less important than 
the trend toward group and chain banking have nevertheless exhibited 
the same accelerated pace since the war. Undertaken for the same reasons 
as motivated the promoters of branch and group banking, the need for 
mergers has unquestionably been increased since 1929 by the expedient 
of absorbing weak banks which are on the verge of failure into the stronger 
institutions of the same community. Bank consolidations, comparatively 



Number of 


Number of 


Number of 































































Data for 1900-1920 taken from Banking Inquiry 1925, vol. VI, prepared under the direction of H. 
Parker Willis and filed with the U. S. Senate Committee on Banking and Currency. Later data compiled from 
unpublished material in the possession of the authors. 

rare before the war, rose sharply in the depression of 1921 and have 
increased constantly ever since. In this movement, also, all types of 
banks national, state, trust companies, stock and mutual savings and 
private banks have participated. 

Holding Companies. As an instrument for the concentration of 
business control, the holding company, defined as "any company which 
holds securities in any other company or companies" in an amount suf- 
ficient to ensure control, 42 deserves special mention because of the great 
strides it has made in recent years and because of the peculiar problems 

40 See footnote to Table 16. 

41 U. S. Federal Reserve Board, Federal Reserve Bulletin, December, 1930, vol. XVI, p. 

42 Bonbright, James C., and Means, Gardiner C., The Holding Company, New York, 
1932, p. 7. 

[ 246 ] 


its development has created. Like other forms of business consolidation, 
the holding company dates back in American history. Since the war it 
has had an enormous development primarily in the public utility industry, 
but substantially also in transportation and banking as well. The popular- 
ity of the holding company and the public significance of its growth are 
ascribed by students of the question to two of its features. It is, in the 
first place, "the most effective device that has ever been invented for 
combining under a single control and management the properties of two 
or more hitherto independent corporations. It has, therefore, made 
possible the development of giant systems of business enterprise at a 
pace far more rapid than would have been feasible by any other method of 
concentration." 43 And in the second place it is "largely, though not 


Type of service and proportion rendered 

Type of company rendering service 

Electric, percent of all 
electric power output 
(kilowatt hours) 

Gas, percent of total 
gas sales (cubic feet) 

Traction, percent of 
traction service 

Subsidiaries of pure holding com- 




Subsidiaries of operating company 
Independent operating companies. . 




Total for forty companies. . . 
Service by other companies. . 




Total for nation 




Bonbright and Means, op. cit., p. 95. 

completely, exempt from restrictions to which other business corporations 
have been subject, . . . partly because it is such a new device, partly 
because it is protected from interference by our traditions of constitutional 
law, and partly because it often extends beyond the jurisdiction of any 
one state." 44 Because of these characteristics, the device of the holding 
company assumes at this time, when the issues involved in the public 
control over business are most confused and difficult, added significance. 
The largest, most rapid and most perfect development of the holding 
company has taken place in public utilities, especially in the electric light 
and power and gas business. Ten groups of systems do approximately 
three quarters of the electric light and power business of the country and 
sixteen holding company systems control 45 percent of the country's gas 

43 Ibid., p. 4. 

44 Ibid., p. 6. 



output. 45 The degree to which this control is established in the electric 
and gas industries and the relative freedom from control of the less 
important traction industry is shown in Table 18. 

In the railroad industry, the holding company, checked by the North- 
ern Securities decision of 1904, 46 is of much more recent origin. It may in 
its present form be said to date from the passage of the Transportation 
Act of 1920 which placed the security issues of railroad operating com- 
panies under a measure of control by the Interstate Commerce Commis- 
sion. The organization of the Pennroad Corporation and the Van 
Sweringen group of holding companies marked the extension of this 
device into the railroad business. By 1930, 20 percent of the entire rail- 
way mileage was under the ultimate control of holding companies. 47 
With the railroads, as in the case of the power industry, certainly a major 
purpose of the holding company has been the avoidance or mitigation of 
public control. "In the field of the railways . . . it is doubtful whether 
any one of the great holding companies and investment companies which 
have recently been created by several of the rival systems would ever 
have been thought of aside from their usefulness as a means of escaping 
the guiding hand of the Interstate Commerce Commission/* 48 

The latest type of holding company, which is practically a product 
of the nineteen twenties and born of the desire for control and the public 
avidity for securities, is the investment trust. Although the original pur- 
pose of the investment trust was the management of investment funds 
of diverse individuals, the abrupt expansion of the funds of American 
investment trusts to roughly $3,000,000,000 in less than ten years en- 
couraged in some trusts the idea of employing these funds for the purchase 
of corporate control. The evil days upon which the investment trusts 
have fallen as a result of the steadily declining security markets since 
1929 make the future of this form of holding company uncertain. On the 
other hand, the consolidation of existing trusts, the liquid condition of 
some of them and the low prices at which control can be bought would 
appear to encourage the further entrance of the surviving investment 
trusts into this field of business consolidation. 

No simple summary will suffice to describe the extent of concentration 
prevailing in the United States in 1930. An interesting attempt to do so 
has been made by Gardiner C. Means. The two hundred largest non- 
financial corporations in 1927 (45 railroads, 58 public utilities and 97 
industrials), he finds, had gross assets of over 67 billion dollars. 49 This 

45 Ibid., p. 91-95. 

46 United States v. Northern Securities Company, 175 U. S. 211. 

47 Bonbright and Means, op, cit., p. 228. 

48 Ibid., p. 7. 

49 Means, Gardiner C., "The Growth in the Relative Importance of the Large Corpora- 
tion in American Economic Life," American Economic Review, March, 1931, vol. XXI, pp. 

[ 248 ] 


represented control of almost one-half of all corporate assets, excluding 
those of financial corporations. Of 573 companies, having securities 
regularly quoted on the New York Stock Exchange, 130 had gross assets 
in each case of over 100 million dollars in 1929, totaling over 80 percent 
of the assets of all the 573 companies. The growth in assets of the great 
corporations appears to have been between two and three times as rapid 
as that of all other non-financial concerns. Less than a quarter of the 
increase in assets apparently has come from mergers or consolidations; 
somewhat more than a quarter may be calculated as corporate savings; 
but more than half is new capital obtained in the open market. The steady 
growth in number of stockholders in these great enterprises betokens the 
degree of public confidence which this corporate development enjoyed, 
a confidence which became deliriously speculative at the time of the 
great bull market of 1928-1929, in which the shares of these leading 
corporations led in the upward movement. In the great drop or series of 
drops in security prices following the stock market crash of October, 
1929, the public has scanned even these leviathans of industry with a 
somewhat disillusioned eye. This analysis of the trend toward consolida- 
tion Means concludes on a note of warning prophecy. "If," he says, "the 
more rapid rate of growth from 1924 to 1927 were maintained for the 
next twenty years, 80.5 percent [of all non-financial corporate wealth] 
would be held by the large 200 [corporations] in 1950. If the indicated 
rates of growth of the large corporations and of the national wealth were 
to be effective in the future, within 20 years virtually, half of the national 
wealth would be owned by the 200 giant corporations." 50 

The Problem of Public Control* 1 These colossal efforts of business 
itself to achieve internal and private control over the operations of busi- 
ness have in recent years given rise to renewed public interest in the 
regulation of private enterprise in the social interest. The advance of 
concentration has in each field of industry raised the issue of the problem 
of adequate public control. The conflict over public utility rates is again 
being waged with more than traditional vigor; and the amenability of the 
utility holding company to public regulation has only recently become 
the subject of general concern. Unregulated control of banks by chain 
and group banking has already resulted in congressional banking inquiry 
and in the submission of regulatory legislation to the Congress of 1932. 52 
The chain store movement has produced widespread local agitation 
against its effect in displacing the independent retailer